There was some dispute between who was more culpable in a scheme to bring powdered fentanyl into the city. But a judge made it easier to decipher by sentencing them each to four years in prison for what he called a "joint enterprise."
Robert W. Craddock, 49, of 713 Gasche St., Wooster, and Mario Howard (aka Eric Mills), 28, Detroit, both were sent to prison by Wayne County Common Pleas Judge Mark K. Wiest.
The two men admitted last month to a variety of drug charges that led to perhaps the most dangerous drug yet onto the streets, and into a Gasche Street home where two small children lived amongst a "sea of needles."
Mills' lawyer, Public Defender John Leonard, told the court Wednesday while his client has admitted to his wrongdoing, he was not the most "culpable" suspect. He instead pointed to Craddock.
"(Mills) wasn't some mastermind, he was sent down (to Wooster) because he got in with the wrong people," Leonard said. He cited the Probation Department's pre-sentence report in which codefendant Juliette Lavy, 39, of Wooster indicated Craddock was the most culpable person of the three.
"(Mills) is not this terrible person, this kingpin or drug pusher," Leonard said.
Mills (the name he and his attorney used in court) apologized to the city of Wooster and the state of Ohio.
"I hurt a lot of people. I hurt my family. I was not working and I made the wrong decision," Mills said.
Craddock also apologized and said he now wants to become a "better citizen."
"I ruined many lives in an attempt to better my own," Craddock said, as he "slowly became addicted."
Craddock's attorney, Robert Brown, said Mills controlled the drugs and the money. He added the fentanyl found in his client's bedroom was placed there by Mills.
Assistant Prosecutor Jodie Schumacher said Mills acted knowingly when he came down from Detroit, "for hire" essentially. She added Craddock, though, was the one who facilitated bringing the drugs into town and "opened his home up" to Mills. She noted fentanyl is "perhaps the strongest of all opiates" and is not measured in grams but micrograms.
Wiest dubbed Mills the "overseer" and Craddock's connection to bringing fentanyl into Wooster was in selling them.
"You placed this poison in the Wooster community," Wiest said.
"My belief, Mr. Craddock, is that you and Mr. Howard were engaged in a joint enterprise," Wiest said. "You placed this poison in the Wooster community ... you helped bring it here from Detroit ... with young children present."
The charges stem from undercover buys made in December and January of fentanyl, an opiate-based drug estimated to be many times more potent than heroin. The drug is cited for a recent increase of overdose deaths in northeast Ohio as fentanyl is being laced with or sold as heroin.
A search warrant was executed Jan. 13 by the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency at the home where Craddock lived with Lavy and their two small children (one in common). Howard, along with Craddock and Lavy were arrested.
Lavy is scheduled to be sentenced July 14.
Investigators discovered a "brick" of powdered fentanyl weighing over 30 grams at the home with an estimated street value of $7,680. An additional $3,251 in cash was found in the house.
The fentanyl, according to court documents, was located in the bedroom of Lavy and Craddock, where their child was found sleeping, along with what Schumacher previously described in court as "a sea of needles."
The child and a second one who was not at the residence at the time of the warrant, were put in the care of Wayne County Children Services.
Don Hall, director of Medway, said typically in Wayne County, authorities do not see fentanyl in a powdered form.
"It's the type of fentanyl that is something which would be manufactured in a clandestine lab," Hall said, adding fentanyl in Wooster and Wayne County is "coming in from out of state."
The charges to which the codefendants have pleaded guilty to in Wayne County Common Pleas Court are: