Man charged with trafficking suspected in overdoses
Eleven people were indicted by a Marion County grand jury this week, including a man police said was suspected of selling drugs that caused multiple overdoses Saturday.
Simon Harris, 32, 470 Olney Ave., was indicted on one count each of trafficking in heroin and trafficking in cocaine, both charged as fifth-degree felonies, and Marion County Prosecutor Brent Yager said further charges could be added if prosecutors believe they can prove Harris sold drugs that caused an overdose.
While fatal overdose cases can and have led to homicide charges, Yager said non-fatal overdoses can also lead to a second-degree felony charge of corrupting another with drugs, and that his office views such increased prosecution as a priority.
Yager said prosecutors can "have their hands tied" on sentencing for fourth- and fifth-degree felonies so adding a higher charge can stiffen the punishment if there is a conviction.
"Anybody engaged in that type of activity needs to know there's a possibility of picking up a homicide case or a corrupting case, it's much more serious," he said.
Although Harris has been in Marion for several years, according to MARMET Lt. Chris Adkins, he is originally from Detroit and is one of several Detroit-linked individuals arrested in drug investigations over the past week.
Harris has three prior local felony convictions for narcotics possession, including cocaine in 2012 and heroin last year, which led to an active probation term, and Adkins said the Marion County Adult Probation Office assisted in the most recent investigation. Yager said a probation violation charge has been filed as part of that as well, and his office is seeking a prison term in that case.
Harris' attorney wasn't immediately available to comment, and staff at his office said they likely wouldn't make a statement at this time. Harris was arrested Saturday night, Adkins said, hours after multiple non-fatal overdoses.
The indictment alleged the offenses occurred "on or around" Saturday.
Since then, there were six overdoses Monday that included a suspected overdose death. Another death suspected to be an overdose that occurred Wednesday morning. MARMET detectives have been aggressively investigating overdose cases, with assistance from federal funding for overtime pay, and Maj. Jay McDonald has vowed that the police will seek federal charges for those who sell drugs that cause a fatal overdose.
Several such cases have been presented to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Toledo for potential future indictments, according to McDonald. Earlier this year, those federal prosecutors oversaw the sentencing of two Chicago-linked men who sold 'blue drop' heroin laced with fentanyl that caused a Marion man's fatal overdose in May 2015.
The grand jury also indicted a Chicago man, Anthony Thomas, with one count of possession of cocaine, charged as a fifth-degree felony. The indictment alleged the offense occurred in March. It is the first instance of felony charges filed against Thomas in Marion County Common Pleas Court, but Marion Municipal Court records show he had a drug-related misdemeanor conviction in November 2012.
The grand jury indicted nine others on felony charges, including four on charges involving forgery, theft or stolen property, and two men were jointly charged with burglary.
Carl Hook, 19, 250 Senate St., and Dylan Lanum, 22, 352 Girard Ave., were jointly indicted on one count of burglary, charged as a third-degree felony.
Jolene C. Farrell, 30, 351 S. Grand Ave., was indicted on two counts of theft, both charged as fifth-degree felonies.
Vince Goligoski, 21, was indicted on one count each of theft and forgery, both charged as fifth-degree felonies.
Bruce Wertz, 34, 223 Summit St., was indicted on two counts of forgery, both charged as fifth-degree felonies.
Mark January, 21, Prospect, was indicted on one count of receiving stolen property, charged as a fifth-degree felony.
Michelle L. Workman, 28, Green Camp Township, was indicted on one supplemental count of possession of cocaine, charged as a fifth-degree felony. Workman previously was indicted on July 28 on one count of identity fraud, charged as a fifth-degree felony. She pleaded not guilty to that charge.
Brandon L. Spears, 20, was indicted on one count of felonious assault, charged as a second-degree felony.
Ryan R. Rollison, 31, 482 Oak St., was indicted on one count of having weapons under disability, charged as a third-degree felony.
Originally published in the Marion Start on November 3, 2016.