Drug trafficking arraignments in court

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Two people accused of drug trafficking in Shadyside and a couple connected to a former urologist convicted of similar charges all pleaded innocent this week before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra.

Stacey McCabe-Heathcote, 50, of Bellaire pleaded innocent to two counts of trafficking in drugs in the vicinity of a school, a felony that allegedly occurred Sept. 17. Her pretrial hearing was set for June 11, with a plea agreement deadline July 9 and trial July 31. Her $10,000 bond was continued.

Brandon Michael Elliott, 29, of 41 E. 49th St., Shadyside pleaded innocent to two counts of trafficking in drugs in the vicinity of a school, a felony that allegedly occurred Aug. 17. His pretrial hearing was set for June 11, with a plea agreement deadline June 9 and trial July 26. His recognizance bond was continued.

According to members of the Belmont County Major Crimes Unit and Shadyside Police Department, the charges resulted from an investigation that lasted more than a year. Investigators said the alleged drug activity impacted Shadyside, Bellaire and Powhatan Point.

Investigators allege that drug deals were made at the Orange and Black Carryout, where Heathcote worked as the manager. Authorities also accused Elliott of dealing drugs out of Shadyside Towing and Repair. Both businesses are near Shadyside Local School District buildings. The prosecution does not believe there was any collusion or cooperation between the two sites.

Heathcote is the former owner of the Shadyside Party Center, which was declared a public nuisance in 2013 by Gov. John Kasich’s office for selling synthetic marijuana. This occurred after a large-scale raid of suspected businesses. Heathcote previously was convicted of possession of drugs in connection with that case.

Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan said Heathcote’s current charges stem from the alleged sale of prescription drugs.

In an unrelated case, Ashley Padgett and her husband, Ryan Padgett, also appeared to face charges.

Ashley Padgett, 30, whose last known address is in Neffs, and Ryan Padgett, 32, whose last known address is in Bellaire, both pleaded innocent to deception to obtain dangerous drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. Ashley Padgett faces four counts for crimes that allegedly occurred Feb. 19, 2017, while Ryan Padgett faces two counts for offenses that allegedly occurred Feb. 21, 2017. Pretrial dates for both were set for June 11, with plea agreement deadlines July 9. Ashley Padgett’s trial was set for July 17, and Ryan Padgett’s July 19. Recognizance bonds were continued for both.

Ashley Padgett is accused of stealing a prescription pad from her former employer, Rodney Curtis, a former St. Clairsville urologist. Flanagan said the Padgetts are accused of using the pad to write prescriptions.

At one time, Ashley Padgett and Curtis were romantically involved. During Curtis’ trial in January for drug trafficking, Padgett testified that she acted as a confidential informant for controlled drug buys from Curtis. Curtis was convicted of trafficking and possession of drugs and sentenced to six months in the Belmont County Jail and six months in the East Ohio Correction Center.

Flanagan did not comment about whether Ashley Padgett’s cooperation would impact the couple’s charges during plea negotiations.

“They will be treated very similarly to the way Dr. Curtis was treated,” Flanagan said. “If ultimately they decide they want a trial, then much like Dr. Curtis all bets are off.”

As for Curtis, his medical license remains suspended and he is pursuing an appeal of his case, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Tess Pollock, director of communications with the State Medical Board of Ohio, said Curtis’ license was suspended in February due to this conviction. Curtis did not request a hearing before the medical board within the allotted 30-day window following that suspension. Pollock said the board may proceed with disciplinary action regarding the license, including possible permanent revocation or a reprimand. Pollock said no date has been set for those proceedings.