ELYRIA — County Common Pleas Judge James Burge has reduced the lengthy prison sentence of another prisoner over the objections of prosecutors.
On Thursday, Burge slashed the 25-year sentence of convicted drug trafficker Randy Charlton to 12 years.
Kreig Brusnahan, Charlton’s attorney, said his client requested a resentencing under an Ohio Supreme Court decision that requires inmates who weren’t informed that they could be subject to parole requirements after their release to be resentenced and informed of that possibility.
Earlier this year, Burge cut the sentence of Thomas Holmes from 23 years to six years, a move that led to Holmes being freed from prison. Holmes had been convicted of beating his now-deceased wife in the head with a tack hammer and a few days later punching her while holding her at gunpoint in 2000.
Both Charlton and Holmes had been sentenced by retired county Common Pleas Judge Lynett McGough, whom Burge replaced in January. Burge has said when such cases are presented to him, he will review each case himself and not rubber stamp McGough’s original sentences.
Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said Charlton, now 41, was “one of the largest drug dealers Lorain County has ever seen.”
Charlton, Cillo said, was caught with a large amount of freshly made crack cocaine when he was arrested in 1998, and he later perjured himself trying to save his boss in the drug trafficking ring he worked for. Later, Charlton was convicted of perjury for lying on the witness stand in Reginald “Scooter” Smith’s trial.
Despite Charlton’s apology at Thursday’s hearing to his family, friends and the community and his insistence that he has changed during his seven years in prison, Cillo said Charlton remains a criminal.
“Nothing has changed,” Cillo said.
But Brusnahan said Charlton had been a model prisoner and tried to better himself while incarcerated.
“If he’s been in prison for seven years and he’s not a changed person, then our system isn’t working,” Brusnahan said.
Brusnahan also said Charlton got a bad deal after McGough rejected his efforts to present a defense that accused Lorain police of entrapment, which forced him plead no contest to the drug charges against him in 1999.
But when Charlton showed up for sentencing and tried to withdraw his plea — a request McGough rejected, according to court documents — he fled the area and wasn’t caught until 10 months later in Georgia.
Cillo said when officers finally tracked down Charlton, he refused to surrender until he had finished smoking a final marijuana joint.
That was further proof, he said, that Charlton wasn’t ready to face responsibility for his actions.
After Burge reduced Charlton’s sentence, his family said they were happy, even though Charlton still has another five years left to spend in prison. McGough’s original sentence was simply too harsh, said Charlton’s brother, Micah Charlton.
“He committed a crime, but be fair about it,” he said.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will did not return calls seeking comment about whether his office would appeal Charlton’s sentence, which is what it did in the Holmes case.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.