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Locals plead guilty to drug charges

Several people arrested on drug charges were among those making appearances last week in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Charles M. Tabler, 45, of 27 Private Drive 708, South Point,

pleaded guilty, although apparently reluctantly, to a four-count indictment

stemming from a raid at his residence June 29. He was one of four people arrested in that raid.

“Do you believe what you are doing is in your best interest?” Judge Frank McCown asked him as Tabler sat beside his attorney, Tyler Smith.

“Honestly, not really,” Tabler replied.

“If you’re saying you don’t want to do this I will not accept your plea and we will proceed directly to trial,” McCown said.

“I’ll take the plea,” Tabler replied. “I’m pleading.”

“The court cannot coerce you to do something you don’t want to do,” McCown told Tabler, who wiped tears from his eyes as McCown asked him a series of questions about his guilty plea.

Tabler will be sentenced this week and Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. has recommended a four year prison term provided Tabler testifies against Adrian Johnson, 33, of Columbus, one of those arrested with him.

Also Wednesday, Stephanie Crance, Fifth Street, Ironton, pleaded guilty to a four-count drug indictment against her stemming from another June drug raid in South Point. Judge Richard Walton sentenced her to a total of four years in prison followed by two years probation. She must surrender her driver’s license for two years and pay more than $10,000 in fines plus all costs associated with her case.

One of the people arrested with Crance in that South Point drug raid also pleaded guilty to the four-count indictment against her. Tina Sallie, 32, of Raceland, Ky., was sentenced four years in prison but may be released early if she testifies against LaRhonda Moton, 28, of Ashland, Ky., who has yet to resolve her drug case.

Also Wednesday, an Ironton man was sentenced to one year in prison after he pleaded guilty to an escape charge. Phillip O’Dell, 29, of 1351 County Road 26, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of forgery and was sentenced to seven months in prison for that conviction. He was allowed free on bond and but failed to report to prison March 3 as he was directed to do. O’Dell explained to Walton that he had not meant to elude authorities by turning himself in late.

“I was over in Riverpark Hospital,” he said. “I was trying to get myself help. I was strung out on drugs bad.”

Walton ordered O’Dell to serve his sentence for forgery and his sentence for escape concurrently.

A Coal Grove man will spend eight months in prison after he admitted he violated his probation. Robert Stevens, 19, of 322 Ridgeway St., originally pleaded guilty in February 2005 to trafficking in drugs and was sentenced to four years community controlled sanctions. Since then, authorities said Stevens failed to report to his probation officer, smoked marijuana, didn’t pay his monthly supervisory fee and didn’t pay his court costs. Walton gave Stevens credit for time served awaiting resolutions of his most recent case.

A Chesapeake man pleaded guilty Wednesday on a bill of information to one count of burglary. Robert Simpkins, 40, of 221 Hawthorne St., must serve four years community-controlled sanctions under intensive supervised probation. He must also complete a rehabilitation program at the STAR Criminal Justice Center.

“I know I’ve messed up a good bit of my life, hurt family members, but I’d like to get things straightened out,” Simpkins told the McCown.

Also Wednesday, a Huntington, W.Va., woman accused of stabbing her ex-boyfriend will serve four years in prison for that misdeed. Sherry Wellman, 48, pleaded guilty to one count of felonious assault. If she exhibits good behavior in prison, she may be eligible for judicial release.