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Published: Saturday, 2/26/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Marijuana case

6 enter not-guilty pleas to complicity in trafficking

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Cory Mendoza, 22, is charged with trying to smuggle marijuana into Toledo Correctional Institution, where he is serving a 39-year sentence for causing the deaths of a Weston, Ohio, couple in a crash near Bowling Green. Cory Mendoza, 22, is charged with trying to smuggle marijuana into Toledo Correctional Institution, where he is serving a 39-year sentence for causing the deaths of a Weston, Ohio, couple in a crash near Bowling Green.
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BOWLING GREEN — One year after Cory Mendoza tearfully apologized for the bad choices he'd made, he was back in court Friday, charged with trying to smuggle marijuana into Toledo Correctional Institution, where he is serving a 39-year sentence.

Mendoza, 22, and five co-defendants, including his mother, uncle, and girlfriend, were arraigned in Wood County Common Pleas Court on charges of complicity to trafficking in marijuana. A seventh suspect, Mendoza's cousin Brandon Mendoza, 21, of Hamler, was arraigned Wednesday on the same charge.

Last February, Cory Mendoza was convicted of multiple counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges for causing the deaths of a Weston couple in a drunken- driving crash near Bowling Green. Before his sentencing, he told family members of the victims, William and Sharon DeWitt, both 69, that he had made poor choices and was sorry.

Now, Chief Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers says he was part of "a plan to traffic marijuana into the institution" between Aug. 20 and Sept. 1. While the prison is in Lucas County, she said part of the offense took place in Wood County, where a grand jury handed up indictments against the seven last week.

Six co-defendants each entered not guilty pleas Friday, and a trial for the group was set for May 9-12.

Juan Mendoza, 40, who is Cory Mendoza's uncle, and his attorney, Scott Hicks, attend the hearing.
Juan Mendoza, 40, who is Cory Mendoza's uncle, and his attorney, Scott Hicks, attend the hearing.
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Judge Alan Mayberry released Mendoza's mother, Mary Jo Waltz, 42, of Hamler on a recognizance bond with the conditions she have no contact with the co-defendants except for Brandon Mendoza, who lives with her.

Also freed on their own recognizance with the condition they have no contact with the co-defendants and have random drug tests were Mendoza's girlfriend, Brooke Thomas, 21, of Toledo, and Wendell Ford, 52, of Toledo.

Cory Mendoza's uncle Juan Mendoza, 40, of Hamler was held on $10,000 bond because of a criminal history, and Earl Moore, 53, of Toledo was held on $5,000 bond because of a history of failing to appear for court.

The charge has a maximum prison term of a year, a $2,500 fine, and a driver's license suspension of up to five years.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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