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Rootstown heroin dealers plead guilty

Others charged with purchasing

By DAVE O'BRIEN Staff Writer Published: June 18, 2017 4:00 AM
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Three accused heroin dealers busted following a raid on a Rootstown apartment in March have admitted in court to selling the dangerous drug and possessing others at the time of their arrest.

Accused heroin dealer Demetrius E. Harris, 39, formerly of 4247 Sabin Drive, pleaded guilty Monday, June 12, in front of Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman to possession of cocaine, a second-degree felony with a specification; aggravated trafficking in drugs, a third-degree felony; four counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, all fourth-degree felonies; and one count each of aggravated possession of drugs and trafficking in heroin, both fifth-degree felonies.

Harris faces two to eight years in prison on the cocaine charge alone, along with one to three years in prison on third-degree felony, up to 18 months in prison on the fourth-degree felonies and up to one year in prison on each of the fifth-degree felonies. He remains in the Portage County jail pending sentencing.

Darnesha A. Johnson, 22, with a last known address in Cleveland, pleaded guilty Monday, June 12, to one count each of aggravated trafficking in drugs, a fourth-degree felony, trafficking in heroin and possession of criminal tools, both fifth-degree felonies, in Pittman's courtroom.

The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation, and that Johnson be interviewed for placement in the Northeast Ohio Community Alternative Program, a substance abuse treatment center for convicted felons, as well as the Pitstop and PARC programs for low-level drug offenders.

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Curtis J. Holeman, 24, of East 118th Street in Cleveland, pleaded guilty May 22 to two counts of trafficking in heroin, both fourth-degree felonies, before retired Judge John Enlow, who was sitting in for Pittman that day. He remains in jail in lieu of bond, according to court records.

The trio were accused of selling heroin and fentanyl out of Harris and Johnson's Sabin Drive apartment multiple times between Feb. 13 and a March 2 raid on the residence by the Portage County Drug Task Force. The raid also turned up cocaine and marijuana, as well as more than $1,900 in illegal drug profits, which Harris will forfeit to the drug task force and prosecutors at sentencing, along with other drug paraphernalia and a digital scale.

Several other defendants caught purchasing illegal drugs from Harris, Holeman and Johnson also faced charges following the raid. Kim M. Grassel, 55, of Doak Drive in Ravenna Township, pleaded guilty June 7 before Common Pleas Judge Becky Doherty to possession of heroin, a fifth-degree felony. She remains free on bond, and will be interviewed for drug treatment in lieu of a felony conviction, Doherty ruled.

Charges against Mitchell L. Moore, 29, of Lane Avenue in Rootstown were dismissed by prosecutors in March for further review, pending the presentation of evidence to a grand jury.

Grassel bought less than 1 gram of heroin at the Sabin Drive apartment and was arrested in the area of S.R. 44 and Tallmadge Road, while Moore allegedly had less than 1 gram of heroin on him when arrested that same day in the parking lot of the Giant Eagle on S.R. 44 in Rootstown.

The case against a third man, 29-year-old Bradley Biltz, is set to begin Sept. 19 in Pittman's courtroom. A resident of Kline Road in Rootstown, Biltz is free on bond on charges of aggravated possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, after deputies arrested him for possession of less than 1 gram of fentanyl and a foil smoking device during a March 2 traffic stop on the Rootstown-Edinburg border.

At least three times in February and March, agents conducting surveillance on Harris' apartment allegedly observed Biltz purchasing heroin there, commander Larry Limbert said. In all three cases, Biltz was driving a vehicle belonging to Coleman Professional Services, for whom he worked as a maintenance man.


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