Accused trafficker in court

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A man facing eight drug and assault charges from two separate cases was arraigned Monday before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra.

Cory Julius Smith, 32, of Cleveland, was arraigned and pleaded innocent in the two cases. Each carries four felony charges. It is alleged he carried on with drug trafficking activity while he was wanted by police.

In the first case, Smith is charged with possession of cocaine and possession of heroin, both second-degree felonies, and two counts of assault on a police officer, both fourth degree felonies. The incident allegedly occurred June 14, 2017. His pre-trial was set for Jan. 7, with plea agreement Jan. 22 and trial Feb. 14.

In the second case, Smith is charged with four counts of trafficking in heroin and cocaine. Three of the charges are second-degree felonies, while one is a third-degree felony. The events allegedly occurred Sept. 25 and Oct. 9. His pre-trial and plea agreement hearings for the second case were set on the same dates as the first, while the trial date on the second set of charges will be Feb. 21.

His bond was set at $250,000 at the recommendation of the state.

SMITH

Smith could face a maximum of 15 to 20 years.

“Based on the circumstances, we would ask that the bond be imposed in this matter that is exceedingly high,” Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan said, adding that Smith failed to appear for his initial arraignment last year. “During the interim, new felonies in Belmont County have been committed by the defendant, at least that’s the allegation.”

According to the prosecutor’s office, the first set of charges stem from a 2017 case involving a traffic stop in the Bellaire area. Law enforcement reportedly observed suspicious behavior during the stop and objected to being patted down. When two sheriff’s deputies attempted to handcuff him, he reportedly resisted and struck an officer multiple times.

“At the time of his (2017) arrest, he got into a scuffle with police,” Flanagan said.

According to prosecutor’s records, a search yielded 21.28 grams of cocaine and13.56 grams of heroin, with approximate street value of more than $5,000.

The second set of crimes allegedly occurred in Pultney and Richland townships.

“The second one involved multiple undercover drug transactions,” Flanagan said.

“He was wanted, and a warrant was issued for his arrest because he failed to appear at arraignment. During that time, a subsequent drug investigation was occurring, and that’s where the new charges stem (from). So we have two different indictments.”

In other matters, Jeffrey Scott Riffle, 36, of Wheeling, was arraigned and pleaded innocent to rape.

The first-degree felony allegedly occurred Sept. 5. His pre-trial was set for Jan. 7, with plea agreement Jan. 22 and trial Feb. 12. His bond was set at $50,000.

According to the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, charges stem from an alleged case of forcible rape between two adults occurring in Martins Ferry.

“It was forcible between two people that know each other,” Flanagan said. “He was living in Ferry.”

Riffle faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison and designation as a Tier 3 sex offender.

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