Trio plead to lesser drug charges

Out-of-state men caught with marijuana; attorney questions arresting trooper’s ‘luck’
Melissa Topey
Aug 30, 2013

 

A Minnesota man and two Washington men arrested late last year on drug trafficking charges have pleaded down to lesser charges.

Kenneth Coffin, 55, of Seattle, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Erie County Common Pleas Court to charges of complicity to possess marijuana and possession of hashish, while Thomas Whitlow, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn., pleaded guilty to obstructing justice, and Lucas Franz, 33, of Seattle, pleaded guilty to complicity to possess marijuana.

All three were released Wednesday from the Erie County jail, pending their sentencing hearings Oct. 10 in Judge Roger Binette’s courtroom.  Franz and Whitlow could both face up to 36 months in prison, while Coffin could face up to nine years.  The three were originally charged in December with drug trafficking and drug possession, after an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper stopped their vehicle on the Ohio Turnpike and found 353 pounds of marijuana inside. The charges were later reduced, and the three pleaded guilty to even lesser charges Wednesday.

Coffin’s attorney, Geoffrey Oglesby, said he would have preferred to take the case to trial, but any ensuing court processes — such as appeals, if convicted — would have taken as long as the eventual prison sentence.    

Oglesby, however, said he has lingering questions about the Highway Patrol’s decision to stop the men’s pickup that morning. Trooper Christopher Breyer stopped the pickup because it was following too closely behind a semi-trailer, Highway Patrol Maj. Shawn Davis said.

Oglesby said Breyer has three similar busts recently. “Something is off,” Oglesby said. “He is a bit too lucky.” Acting on tips from the Drug Enforcement Agency or other agencies — or citizens who report suspicious activity — troopers will sometimes watch for a specific vehicle suspected of involvement in drug activity, Davis said.

A Reuters story recently revealed the National Security Agency has, for some time, provided the DEA with intelligence information on suspected drug activity. The DEA, in turn, passes the information along to local or state law enforcement agencies.  The NSA’s surveillance program, which has swept up phone records of millions of Americans, has come under heavy fire from critics who say it is a violation of civil liberties.  

In the case of Whitlow, Franz and Coffin, however, Trooper Breyer was not acting on a prior tip, Davis said. His reason for the traffic stop was related to a driving offense.  But the trooper’s reasoning for searching the vehicle is another point of suspicion, Oglesby said.

Breyer said he could smell a strong scent of raw marijuana when he was talking to the men as they sat in the truck. The trooper also said the men would not make eye contact with him, and the driver kept his hands on the wheel — something he referred to as criminal activity in testimony, Oglesby said. Oglesby said he was prepared to present an expert to testify that the marijuana was shrink-wrapped in multiple layers, and also placed in duffle bags, which means there would not have been an odor of marijuana.  

Oglesby said there is a recommended sentence of 30 months in prison for Coffin, and he’ll have to serve at least two years of actual incarceration.

Franz was represented by attorney Andrew Schuman, while Whitlow was represented by Jon Rion. 

 

Comments

DickTracey

Give me a break, Oglesby! You just wanna see your name in the paper or what?

Or do you think this is free advertising for you to pick up some new drug using clients?

Yea, the trooper is so good, he memorized every Ohio plate that had been suspected of trafficing drugs, and when he was done with Ohio, he memorized Minnesota !

" Something is off" alright! We have trooper stopping drug traffic and we have a lawyer condemning him for it!

Peninsula Pundit

Careful when you get down off that high horse, dick.
Hate to see you hurt yourself.
These busts on the east end of the turnpike usually start with a 'marked lane violation' or not using a turn signal while changing lanes happen way too frequently to be chance.
This trooper had 3 in recent times.
If you can't figure it out that far, I'm wasting my typing.

the unsilent majority's picture
the unsilent ma...

Funny thing is if you looked at their approved visitors list on the jail website all three included jason ahlers. You know the card game robbery inside man. Bizzarre huh?

deertracker

Oglesby is spot on. I have said for years that these traffic stops that make major busts ALL THE TIME is just too coincidental. WE all are being monitored. Turn off your cell phone and take out the battery sometimes!

Centauri

"A Reuters story recently revealed the National Security Agency has, for some time, provided the DEA with intelligence information on suspected drug activity. The DEA, in turn, passes the information along to local or state law enforcement agencies. The NSA’s surveillance program, which has swept up phone records of millions of Americans, has come under heavy fire from critics who say it is a violation of civil liberties."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2...
"A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans."

"A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. "You'd be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.' And so we'd alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it," the agent said."

"One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept."

What you say by phone or emails are now considered "criminal indicators" as the phrase is often used. NSA will be busy feeding information to local and state police agencies.

Excuse me while I go and do some research on pressure cookers. They are very useful and time savers for quick cooking.

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/co...

he said she said

The trooper was doing his job. Tailgating is illegal in Ohio. Stop blaming everyone else for something your clients did.

SamAdams

I, too, am a little suspicious of the trooper's "luck" since it exceeds coincidence by a pretty heft margin! Deertracker, as much as I'd love to accuse you of paranoia, the truth is that it's NOT paranoia if "they" really ARE out to get you! And these days, it's apparent they are...

The one thing here that really jumped out at me, though, was the trooper being quoted as saying that the driver keeping his hands on the wheel was "criminal activity." I've been TAUGHT to keep my hands on the wheel and to ask permission to move before reaching for my purse, my glove compartment, or anything else. I don't have a problem with that since I imagine a LOT of cops worry that unseen hands could be holding weapons, or moving hands could be grabbing weapons. I DO have a problem with me being calm and carefully avoiding "misunderstandings" being called a sign of some sort of guilt!

AEversole

He is definitely getting inside tips from illeagal wire taps and or illeagal servallance. And if you don't see a problem with that you are a idiot. It is a complete violation of our constitutional rights. Men way smarter then you thought it was pretty imporatant to protect us from the government abusing their powered with ikleagal searches, wire taps and sevallence. For Pete sake the are spying on us and we should be demanding it stops immediately. All 350 million people need to shut this country down untill we get the changes we demand. Take a stand and hops these government agencies accountable.......

AEversole

Stupid auto correct always changes my words

Pastor Ron

He is profiling and has a big mouth. Seems this fella likes to brag about his profiling ability down at the Chesapeake and from what I understand a few of the residents down there didn't like to hear his story. I know at least 3 people that heard him say that "even if they are driving the speed limit he will find a reason to pull them over". Expect more about this story soon. Mr Oglesby you will be getting a visitor soon who was appalled by how brazenly this trooper was when admitting to violating 4th Amendment Rights. Don't get me wrong, this person who told me this despises drug dealers but he also despises law enforcement that breaks the laws at will.