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Three plead to drug charges: All arrested at Palms Motel

By buseman, Jun 10, 2010 | |
  1. buseman
    Three of eight people arrested in March during a Portage County Drug Task Force bust at the now-closed Palms Motel in Streetsboro have pleaded guilty to felony drug charges for selling heroin and cocaine to undercover drug agents.

    A fourth defendant in the case, a convicted felon forbidden by federal law from owning or possessing firearms, also was recently indicted by a federal grand jury on firearms violations stemming from his March 17 arrest at the motel, located at 9686 S.R. 14.

    Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said 24-year-old Frederick L. Coulbourne of Ravenna Township pleaded guilty May 20 to one count of trafficking in cocaine before Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman in Ravenna.

    A Portage County grand jury indictment alleged that Coulbourne sold between five and 10 grams of cocaine in the vicinity of a juvenile March 17. A 17-year-old female was with Coulbourne during the drug transactions, according to the task force, making the charge a more-serious second-degree felony.

    Coulbourne will be made to forfeit $167 to the drug task force upon his conviction. He faces two to eight years in prison at sentencing.

    Co-defendants Shawn J. Behringer and Michael J. Smith both pleaded guilty June 4 in Judge John Enlow’s courtroom — Behringer to a charge of complicity to trafficking in drugs and Michael Smith to trafficking in heroin. Both charges are fourth-degree felonies and carry potential sentences of 18 months in prison.

    Behringer, 32, with a last known address of the Palms Motel, and Michael Smith, 34, of Cleveland, allegedly sold between 10 and 50 unit doses — or between one and five grams — of heroin to undercover drug agents on or about March 17, according to a grand jury indictment.

    Sentencing dates for Coulbourne, Behringer and Michael Smith are pending pre-sentence investigations by the Portage County Adult Probation Department. Michael Smith will be interviewed for possible treatment at the Northeast Ohio Community Alternative Program for felony drug offenders in Warren, according to his plea agreement.

    On April 29, a federal grand jury indicted former Palms manager Richard E. Showers Jr., 38, of Streetsboro for possessing a firearm after having been convicted of felony offenses, according to the office of Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

    Showers, 38, allegedly was carrying a .22 caliber handgun when arrested by the task force. He was forbidden to do so by law because of a 2003 felony burglary conviction in Cuyahoga County, and also allegedly dealt drugs on motel grounds, according to the task force.

    As a result of Showers’ federal charges, the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office in April dismissed felony charges of complicity to trafficking in cocaine, having a weapon under disability and carrying a concealed weapon.

    Drug charges from the March 17 bust still are pending against Cassie Speakman, 27, of Mantua Township and Todd Elichko, 31, of Streetsboro. A warrant for co-defendant Todd A. Smith, 44, of Streetsboro, was issued by Enlow after Smith failed to appear in court June 4 at a pre-trial hearing.

    He is charged with conspiring with Behringer and Michael Smith to sell heroin at the Palms Motel.

    The city of Streetsboro on June 4 closed the Palms Motel after the owner, Jitendra Kapasi, failed to obey a Summit County Common Pleas Court judge’s order to connect to city sewer lines. Kapasi also is facing drug charges in Summit County.

    June 9, 2010


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