SIDNEY – An Oregon woman was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday afternoon in Shelby County Common Pleas Court in a drug trafficking case thought to be connected to a Mexican drug cartel.
Moriah Star Fragua, 32, of Salem, Oregon, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of trafficking in drugs, a second degree felony. She had faced a first degree felony charge of trafficking in drugs.
According to Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell, Fragua and two co-defendants – Phillip R. Romero, 30, of Salem, Oregon, and Claudia E. Gonzales-Matute, 30, of 1531 Spruce Ave. – rented a local storage unit to store drugs.
Fragua and Romero reportedly delivered a kilogram of black tar heroin to the storage unit on Nov. 10, 2018. The unit was left unlocked and checked by storage personnel, who then called police. Tests confirmed the package contained heroin with a street value between $50,000 and $100,000.
Police then refilled the package with rocks of a similar weight. While under surveillance, the package reportedly was retrieved and delivered to an alleged drug dealer in Dayton, which was thought to be part of a drug cartel’s transportation route.
Comments by Gonzales-Matute that she had been threatened led authorities to believe there is a Mexican drug cartel connection, Sell said.
Fragua pleaded guilty to the amended charge and apologized for her actions.
“I would just like to start with an apology,” she said. “Over the course of my incarceration I have realized the damage that I have done not only to my family, my friends, my kids as well as myself with my addiction. And I’ve dealt with difficult mental and emotional abuse from my husband as well. This experience has opened my eyes in a way I can’t express. I’ve come a long way in the short time that I’ve been here. I just want to be a positive member of society.”
Fragua’s attorney, Laura Waymire of the Shelby County Public Defenders Office, asked for treatment for her client while she serves a mandatory prison sentence.
Noting Fragua had a lengthy record of minor infractions dating to 2005, Stevenson accepted the plea agreement of four years in prison.
“The court also notes through the good work of your attorney reduced the charges down to the one charge you’re facing now and also had a major drug offender spec that could have required 11 years in prison,” he said.
Stevenson sentenced Fragua to four years in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction with credit for 187 days served. He also fined her $7,500 plus the cost of prosecution and ordered three years of community controls post release from prison.
“They do have programs for you in prison,” Stevenson said. “Hopefully you’ll take advantage of them, and when you do get out of prison hopefully you’ll be able to find a better track for your life. Good luck to you.”
Gonzales-Matute is scheduled to appear in Shelby County Common Pleas Court on Oct. 2 for sentencing on a first degree felony charge of trafficking in drugs.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Romero. He is in custody and has several jurisdictions seeking his extradition, Sell said. Shelby County will prosecute him when it secures extradition orders.
In other cases, Brooke Danielle Young, 34, appeared in court for two separate cases.
In the first case, she was sentenced on a charge of aggravated possession of drugs and complicity to forgery, both fifth degree felonies. She was sentenced to five years of community control sanctions, drug and alcohol counseling and ordered to pay $550 in restitution, a $300 fine and the cost of prosecution.
In a second case, Young pleaded guilty to aggravated trafficking in drugs, a third degree felony, and aggravated trafficking in drugs, a fourth degree felony, as a result of trafficking methamphetamine. Two counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, both third degree felonies, were dismissed as part of a plea deal.
Assistant Shelby County Prosecutor William R. Zimmerman, Jr., said Young only had traffic offenses prior to this year but had three felony indictments in 2019. She also twice failed to appear in court, he said.
Stevenson ordered Young to serve 30 months in Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for the third degree felony charge and 18 months in prison for the fourth degree felony charge, sentences that she will serve concurrently, with credit for 14 days served. Young also was ordered to pay the cost of prosecution.
Kayla Snyder, 25, was sentenced on a fifth degree felony charge of aggravated possession of drugs. Her attorney, Dustin M. Davis of the Shelby County Public Defenders Office, said Snyder had no desire to be put on community control sanctions and wished to serve her time in prison.
Snyder previously was convicted in 2016 of attempted trafficking in drugs and possession of drugs along with a number of misdemeanors in past 10 years, but Stevenson noted that she denied having a drug problem.
Stevenson sentenced Snyder to 11 months in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and ordered her to pay the cost of prosecution.
Crystal G. Cook, 30, was sentenced on a fifth degree felony charge of attempted trafficking in drugs.
Cook is a first time felon who had only one previous charge as a juvenile. She served 11 days in jail in the most recent case and recently got a job.
Stevenson sentenced Cook to community control sanctions for five years, to attend drug and alcohol counseling, to maintain employment and to pay a $200 fine plus the cost of prosecution.
Travis England, 29, was sentenced on a fifth degree felony charge of aggravated possession of drugs.
It is England’s first felony charge, and he served 11 days in jail. He also has 100 days left in jail for a sentence through Sidney Municipal Court.
Upon completion of his sentence through Municipal Court, Stevenson ordered England to attend the WORTH Center in Lima for rehabilitation. After completing the program, he’ll reside at the Shelby House for continuing rehabilitation then complete any other drug or mental health counseling the Probation Department deems appropriate. He also was ordered to pay the cost of prosecution.
Joshua D. Liette, 32, appeared on a probation violation charge stemming from an August 2018 conviction of attempted possession of drugs and attempted possession of criminal tools, first degree misdemeanors.
Liette hadn’t reported to his probation officer since the beginning of the year but had no other violations. He’s living in Columbus and has a job. Stevenson set bond at $5,000.
Skyler Warren Williamson, 26, failed to appear to sentencing on a charge of grand theft, a fourth degree felony. His attorney, Dustin M. Davis of the Shelby County Public Defenders Office, reported he had no recent contact with Williamson and no reason as to why he didn’t attend the sentencing.
A warrant was issued for Williamson’s arrest.
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