January 27, 2005: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Politics: State Government: Drug Laws: Justice: Dayton Daily News: Governor Taft commutes Marijuana conviction

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Special Report: Ohio Governor Bob Taft, RPCV Tanzania: January 27, 2005: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Politics: State Government: Drug Laws: Justice: Dayton Daily News: Governor Taft commutes Marijuana conviction

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-48-182.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.48.182) on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 9:12 pm: Edit Post

Governor Taft commutes Marijuana conviction

Governor Taft commutes Marijuana conviction

Governor Taft commutes Marijuana conviction

Sentence cut for woman in pot case
Dayton restaurant owner serving time for hauling 335 pounds in motor home
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By Rob Modic

Dayton Daily News

Gov. Bob Taft commuted half the mandatory eight-year prison sentence of a 60-year-old Dayton restaurant owner in a marijuana case stemming from 335 pounds of the drug recovered from her motor home in 1998.

The Ohio Parole Board had unanimously recommended cutting Carol Lee McGonegal's sentence further, to two years.

McGonegal's attorneys, John and Jon Paul Rion, immediately sought judicial release of McGonegal, who has served almost 21?2 years of the sentence imposed in 2000.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr.'s office said, "We were never notified by the governor, nor were we asked for any input into this matter."

In a statement, the office said McGonegal "moved to Dayton so that her boyfriend could set up his drug trade here. She admitted she had made eight to 10 trips to Arizona, assisting her boyfriend in bringing money or marijuana back to Dayton."

Taft commuted the sentences of three prisoners last year, a spokesman said. Of those, one was Rebecca Lynn Hopfer of Washington Twp., who served eight years of a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Hopfer was convicted of murdering her newborn daughter in 1994.

McGonegal, who lived in Oakwood, was reached at the Ohio Correctional Medical Center, where she is recovering from a broken leg suffered during a fall in November.

She said, "It feels really good, and it can't happen fast enough. If it's four years, that's what I'll have to do, but if they can make it sooner."

McGonegal owned the What's Cookin restaurant at 454 Patterson Road. She said she had to give up the restaurant.

Acting on a tip in 1998, Dayton police obtained a search warrant and stopped McGonegal, then 53, as she was driving her motor home out of the Stop-N-Lock, 3636 Linden Ave.

The Rions contended that she did not own the marijuana and had been coerced by her boyfriend. The boyfriend and a third co-defendant, a woman, were prosecuted under federal charges, cooperated with prosecutors and were sentenced to five and 21?2 years in federal prison. Both have been released, McGonegal said.

McGonegal was convicted by a jury. Visiting Judge Ortho Eyster of Knox County agreed with the verdict, but objected to the mandatory sentence he was forced to impose by Ohio drug laws. Eyster also permitted McGonegal to remain free on an appeal bond. She entered prison in August 2002 after she exhausted her appeals.

"It has not been a bad experience," McGonegal said Wednesday. "My time was busy, a lot of community service, and I made a lot of good friends. I've grown as a person."

The Rions filed a petition for commutation from Taft, with the support of the U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Attorney's Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, Dayton Police Department and a regional drug task force.

A five-member board of the Ohio Parole Authority unanimously recommended reduction of her sentence to 21?2 years. There was no public hearing on the commutation case, Rion said.

McGonegal's commutation was signed Jan. 7, but did not arrive at the Rions' office until Wednesday, the attorneys said.

Contact Rob Modic at (937) 225-2282.





When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tanzania; Politics; State Government; Drug Laws; Justice

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