Two Hillsboro men who were involved in a drug smuggling case at the Highland County Justice Center, and another Hillsboro man convicted on a sex crime charge, have been sentenced to prison.
Jesse D. Bushatz, 23, and Joshua Clark, 31, both of Hillsboro, both entered guilty pleas before Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss Wednesday to a third-degree felony charge of illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a specified governmental facility, in particular, the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.
As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, Clark and Amber Coyle, 37, New Vienna, were arrested in the early hours of Thursday, Feb. 7 after they allegedly hid meth beneath a water fountain at the sheriff’s office so inmate workers could deliver it to Bushatz, who was incarcerated at the time.
An affidavit filed in the case said an inmate worker found an “unknown substance” in the lobby at the sheriff’s office and immediately turned it over to authorities. After an investigation, deputies determined that Clark and Coyle placed the meth underneath a water fountain in the lobby at around 12:21 a.m.
In a law enforcement interview, Clark identified the substance as meth and said he had placed it beneath the water fountain for inmate workers to collect and deliver to Bushatz in the jail.
Investigators listened to phone conversations and visitation recordings where Bushatz and Coyle arranged for the drop-off.
Bushatz was sentenced 12 months in prison and was given credit for 42 days served, while Clark was sentenced to 18 months in prison and credited with 84 days served.
Clark’s partner in the drug smuggling case, Coyle, has had her jury trial continued until June 27 at 8 a.m. in Highland County Common Pleas Court.
Also Wednesday, Ronald L. Bryant Jr., 56, Hillsboro, entered a guilty plea on one count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony.
According to his indictment, prosecutors alleged Bryant had sexual contact with a juvenile between January 2004 and December 2015, when the child was between the ages of four and 11.
Bryant was sentenced to 42 months in prison with no credit for jail time, and in addition, the court ordered that he be designated a Tier II registered sex offender, which means he will have to register as a sex offender every six months for the next 25 years.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.