Nearly a year after being mailed two packages containing the illegal drug known as bath salts, a New Matamoras man was sentenced to 34 months in prison Monday.
Todd W. Grether, 35, of 408 Cougler St., expressed remorse and asked for an intermittent jail sentence at his Monday sentencing on one fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs and one fourth-degree felony count of theft, which involved taking money from a friend. He pleaded guilty in April.
"I would like to just do weekends, so I can work," said Grether.
Grether operates a contracting business. He said he is in the middle of a roofing project that would allow him to pay the restitution he still owes on the theft case. His attorney, Shawna Landaker, asked for community control sanctions. Neither request was granted by the judge.
Pointing to Grether's pre-sentencing investigation report, which he said was incomplete and riddled with errors, prosecuting attorney Kevin Rings asked for a 24-month prison term.
Notably, the report said that Grether had no prior felonies. However, Grether was convicted of trafficking in drugs in 1998 and served a prison term, said Rings.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Ed Lane asked Grether why he was not forthcoming about the felony charge during the pre-sentencing interview.
"Somebody said if it happened more than seven years ago, you didn't have to say it," Grether responded.
Lane said he was also disturbed that Grether had made no attempt to pay restitution to the senior citizen from whom he stole.
"Isn't that why we delayed sentencing?" Lane asked Grether.
Grether's sentencing was initially scheduled for May, but Lane granted a continuance so Grether could work through the summer and earn money to pay back the victim.
The victim, Bill Ruggieri, made a statement to the court saying that he was a longtime friend of Grether, but did not recognize the man he had become.
"This is not the Todd Grether that I know or the Todd Grether that I allowed into my home," said Ruggieri.
Ruggieri had loaned Grether around $4,000 to purchase a piece of equipment for his contracting business. Grether did not spend the money on the equipment, nor did he pay the money back, said attorney Jim Schneider, who was not present at the sentencing.
Ruggieri asked the court to consider a strict sentence that would keep Grether from doing further harm and help him receive the help he needs.
Though Grether said he has been clean since his arrest, Landaker said he was at once point addicted to bath salts and was selling them to fund his own habit.
In November, inspectors for the U.S. Postal Service intercepted the packages of bath salts addressed to Grether and contacted officers with the Major Crimes Task Force. Grether was arrested by task force agents while leaving the post office in New Matamoras after having paid $245 to pick up one of the packages.
At the time of arrest, Grether admitted knowing the contents of the packages but claimed he thought they were legal.
"He was doing it before it was illegal and kept on doing it," said Landaker.
Bath salts were banned in Marietta in July 2011 and across the state of Ohio three months later.
Lane sentenced Grether to 17 months in prison on each count, 10 months more than requested by Rings.