December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Man pleads guilty to trying to smuggle pot into jail

Palmer

Palmer

ELYRIA — A Lorain man who tried to pay a Lorain County Jail guard $250 to smuggle marijuana into the jail for an inmate who was in the midst of a murder trial has pleaded guilty.

Maurice Palmer, 24, entered guilty pleas Monday to charges of bribery, attempted illegal conveyance of drugs onto the grounds of a government facility, conspiracy to traffic in drugs and trafficking in marijuana.

Lorain County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh and Palmer’s defense attorney, Brian Darling, said the person who Palmer was trying to get the drugs to was Bohannon Miller, who at the time was on trial for aggravated murder and other charges for killing Marquis McCall during a June 2009 drive-by shooting in Lorain.

“Bohannon Miller was the inmate who first approached the guard to see if he might be interested, so it started from the inside,” Darling said.

Miller, who is now serving a prison term of 40 years to life, gave the guard a phone number to call, Darling said. The guard then went to law enforcement and cooperated in a sting operation that led to the arrest of Palmer and three other people during a Feb. 10 meeting.

It was the same day that Miller’s defense attorney rested her case after calling a single witness in a trial that had been marred by allegations of witness intimidation. The jury heard closing arguments and began deliberating the next day. Miller was found guilty Feb. 12.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said the investigation had to be timed properly so that Palmer’s arrest wouldn’t interfere with Miller’s trial.

Miller has denied killing McCall and is appealing his conviction.

Cavanaugh said Miller had been a disruptive presence at the county jail and that after he was sentenced he was moved to a state prison the next day.

Will said it’s possible that Miller will still face charges for allegedly trying to have drugs smuggled into the jail, but he has not made a final decision.

County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski indicated he plans to sentence Palmer, who was set to be released from jail on bond Monday, to two years in prison during a sentencing hearing scheduled for Monday. Will said his office will push for additional prison time.

That sentence will include two unrelated drug possession cases from 2013 that Palmer also pleaded guilty to during Monday’s court appearance, Darling said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.