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A Stark County man who was part of a gang of a dozen defendants who sold marijuana and prescription pills across four northeast Ohio counties was sentenced to prison Monday.
Dennis J. Geiger, 45, of Fleetwood Avenue in Canton, was led out of Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman's courtroom in handcuffs Monday after being sentenced to four years in prison.
Geiger pleaded guilty in August to one count each of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and possession of marijuana, both second-degree felonies; conspiracy to trafficking in marijuana, trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana and money laundering, all third-degree felonies; and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony.
Geiger received a concurrent four years on each second-degree felony, 36 months on each third-degree felony and 12 months on the fifth-degree felony. He also was fined $5,000 and forfeited $42,744 in cash, a 2000 GEB camper, a Chevrolet Avalanche, a Nokia cellphone and fireworks to the state agencies that investigated and charged him.
The drug task force began an investigation after it received tips in February 2013 that Jeremy Cales -- the owner of Smokin' Tattoos tattoo parlor, formerly located in downtown Kent -- was illegally selling prescription pills and marijuana. That touched off a two-year investigation also involving the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the DEA, who helped catch the conspirators on audio and wiretaps discussing drug trafficking.
Special prosecutor Margaret Tomaro of the Ohio Attorney General's Office said Geiger was "refreshingly candid" with investigators.
"He owned up to his responsibility in the marijuana trafficking business," she said, recommending Pittman follow a joint-sentencing recommendation by her office and Geiger's attorney, Eugene O'Byrne, for a four-year prison sentence.
The state agreed that Geiger, who was willing to testify against his 10 fellow defendants, may be eligible for judicial release before serving his entire sentence, Tomaro said.
Geiger apologized in court "to society, court and my family."
"I will never do these crimes again," he said.
Pittman said she has seen marijuana trafficking "escalate" into dealing prescription opiates and turn users to more severe addictions, including heroin.
"You helped feed that," she told Geiger.
Pittman said she would issue a warrant for the arrest of Lawrence Hairston, 37, of Alliance, for failure to appear in court after he did not show up Monday for his 9 a.m. sentencing hearing. Part of the same group of drug traffickers, Hairston pleaded guilty in July to three felonies.
A sentencing hearing set Monday for Jeremy Cales, 39, of 7627 Smalley Road, Freedom, was continued to a later date at the request of his attorney. His brother, Dirk J. "Josh" Cales, 40, of 5168 Streeter Road, Shalersville, will be sentenced Monday, Oct. 24, in Pittman's courtroom after pleading guilty in July to nine felony drug charges.
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Facebook: Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier
Only 4 years? That is not near long enough. No wonder we have an Heroin epidec. These drug dealers don't have to work just hang around and sell their poison.