Guilty plea in heroin case

A Belpre man arrested driving back from Columbus with a large amount of heroin pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to two counts of drug trafficking.

Justin A. Tucker, 31, of 700 Barclay St. Lot 5, admitted Wednesday he had intended to sell the more than 10 grams of heroin which was found in the traffic stop more than two years ago. Additionally, he admitted to selling a small quantity of heroin during a separate incident more than a year after the traffic stop.

Both charges occurred while Tucker was on parole for a prior felony, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

The Major Crimes Task Force had intended on arresting Tucker for a parole violation during the Oct. 4, 2011 traffic stop.

“The vehicle the defendant was in was stopped while returning from Columbus. The Major Crimes Task Force had obtained a warrant from Judge (Susan) Boyer to place a GPS device on the vehicle,” said Schneider.

A K-9 sniff and resulting search of the vehicle yielded syringes, spoons, balloons, cocaine, and 11.2 grams of heroin.

The fact that Tucker was on parole, the amount of heroin and the fact that juveniles were present had resulted in an indictment for a first-degree felony count of drug trafficking.

Additionally, Tucker was charged with a second-degree felony count of complicity in the possession of heroin, and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of cocaine out of the stop.

In a separate incident, Tucker was charged with a fourth-degree felony count of drug trafficking for selling heroin to a confidential informant on Nov. 4, 2012 and a third-degree felony count of complicity in tampering with evidence for reportedly providing a clean urine sample to a friend on probation.

Tucker agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to both heroin trafficking charges if the language was amended to reduce the first-degree felony to a third-degree felony and if the other three felony charges were dismissed.

To amend the first-degree felony, Schneider agreed to drop the language classifying the crime as a parole violation and the language that stated the crime had occurred in the vicinity of juveniles. He also amended the amount of heroin found in the car from 11.2 grams to 9.2 grams.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane told Tucker that he had a range of sentencing options spanning from community control to up to four and a half years in prison on the charges. He also faces up to $15,000 in fines.

Tucker will be sentenced at 9 a.m. May 1, said Lane.