Drug cases among activities at Belmont County Common Pleas court

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Both Belmont County Common Pleas courtrooms have been busy this week, beginning with a rush of cases before Judge Frank Fregiato.

James Christopher Putnam, 43, of 119 Porter St., Waynesburg, Pa., was arraigned and pleaded innocent to failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer in an Oct. 1 incident. His pretrial hearing was set for March 27, with a plea agreement deadline April 24 and trial May 16.

Jessica Ellen Bates, 33, incarcerated, was sentenced for trafficking in drugs in the vicinity of a school on Nov. 16. She was given three years of community control sanctions and will serve six months in jail, six months at Eastern Ohio Correction Center. Any violation will result in a sentence of 18 months.

Daniel Anthony Dokes Jr., 21, of 55556 Barnes Road, Martins Ferry was sentenced for improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle in a Dec. 20 incident. He was given three years of community controls and will serve three months in jail and six months in the EOCC. Any violation will result in 12 months in prison.

Lamont Twaine Johnson, 34, of 9607 Pierpoint, Cleveland was arraigned and pleaded innocent to possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs, which allegedly occurred Aug. 24. His status conference was set for Feb. 27, with a plea agreement deadline April 24 and trial to be set. His bond was set at $100,000 due to a determination that he is a potential flight risk.

Clayton Donald James, incarcerated, saw his new trial date set for April 11. He is charged with possession of a deadly weapon while under disability in a Sept. 17 incident.

Moriah E. Katz, 32, of 811 Pearl St., Martins Ferry was sentenced for trafficking in drugs on Nov. 13, 2015. Defense lawyers asked Fregiato to consider she was selling drugs to support her own drug habit. She was sentenced to two months in jail and six months at EOCC. Any violation will result in 12 months in prison.

Donald Charles Menough Jr., 49, of 4101 Harrison St., Bellaire, will go to trial Feb. 28. He is charged with trafficking in drugs in the vicinity of a school on Nov. 20.

Joshua Allen Rittenberry, 27, incarcerated, formerly of Canton, Ohio, was arraigned and pleaded innocent to failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer in a Sept. 21 incident. His pretrial was set for Feb. 27, with a plea agreement deadline March 13 and trial March 30. His bond was set at $25,000.

Justin Lasean Smith, 21, of 201 Jacquette St., Bridgeport had a new trial date set for March 28 after failing to appear. A new plea agreement deadline was set for March 13 and status conference Feb. 27. He is charged with forgery, which allegedly occurred Sept. 10, 2015. His bond was increased from $3,500 to $10,000.

Shawn Martin Thomas, 38, of 67756 Kirkwood Heights Road, Bridgeport pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, which occurred April 1, 2011. Sentencing was set for Feb. 27. He will be designated a Tier 1 sex offender.

Sean Steven Vaughn, 37, of 654 Main St., Wheeling pleaded guilty to possession of drugs on Sept. 21, 2015. Sentencing was set for March 13. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered.

Several other cases were held before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra.

David Ernest Britton was arraigned and pleaded innocent to two counts of trafficking in drugs in the vicinity of a school. His pretrial was set for Feb. 21, with a plea agreement deadline March 6 and trial March 7. His bond was set at $1,500.

Andrea M. Shamhart, 25, of 344 S. Broadway St., Barnesville had her probation revoked after admitting to using marijuana. She will serve 30 days in jail. She was originally convicted of burglary and tampering with evidence, which occurred Aug. 28 and Jan. 26 respectively.

Cory Dean Young, 63, incarcerated, was arraigned and pleaded innocent to assault on a police officer. His pretrial was set for Feb. 21, with a plea agreement deadline March 6 and trial March 9. Bond was set at $5,000.

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