The conviction of a Columbus gang member in one of the highest profile cases in several years has been upheld by the Court of Appeals.
Thomas O. Smith, 27, of Columbus, an alleged member of the 22nd Street Bloods, was convicted by a Scioto County Common Pleas jury after a four-day trial held in February 2015 for his participation in a heroin trafficking operation, which involved smuggling heroin and cocaine from Columbus to Portsmouth.
In a judgment entry written by Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Marie Hoover, the court affirmed Smith’s convictions on 11 counts, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities, conspiracy to traffic in heroin, trafficking in heroin and engaging in gang activity.
Twenty-two people, most of who were members or associates of the 22nd Street Bloods street gang in Columbus, were indicted in July 2014 by a Scioto County grand jury after an investigation by the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force and the Columbus Division of Police Strategic Response Bureau (gang unit). All were indicted and have entered guilty pleas or have been convicted by a jury.
Witnesses, who described themselves as drug addicts and prostitutes, testified the gang members would bring amounts of heroin ranging up to 400 grams per day to be packaged and distributed in Scioto County with cash estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in.
Judge William T. Marshall sentenced smith to 40 years in prison.
“We don’t want any more of your drugs down here,” Marshall told Smith at his sentencing. “We’ve had enough. We want Scioto County to be the place it was when we were growing up. We want it to be a place where people can work and raise families without the fear of drugs in the community. We’re telling you and others like you to stay out of our county if you’re selling drugs.”
According to evidence presented by assistant prosecutors Pat Apel and Julie Hutchinson, task force officers seized a number of cell phones during the investigation and showed gang members used one business number, a Scioto County number, for individuals in Scioto County to order heroin or cocaine.
“This was a very organized distribution operation spreading heroin all through Scioto County,” Apel said. “The Columbus Gang Unit was very helpful in the investigation of this case. They were instrumental in the July 2014 sweep in Columbus in which the defendants were arrested in Columbus on Scioto County indictment warrants. They provided criminal intelligence on the 22nd Street Bloods that led to evidence and eventually convictions in this case.”
Smith has six previous felony convictions for drug trafficking in Franklin County and had been released from prison in November 2013. Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities is the Ohio version of the Federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.