Calling it one of the more unusual drug trafficking cases to come before his court, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros on Thursday sent two people to prison for their roles in a psychedelic mushroom growing operation.
He noted that neither had criminal backgrounds and disadvantaged upbringings typical of the drug dealers he sees in court. Instead, both had gotten caught up in a for-profit operation that resulted in the arrests of six people and charges that carry mandatory prison time.
“It was a very organized, thought-out criminal enterprise that was strictly for financial gain,” Judge Mandros said, noting that it was an extensive operation.
He sentenced Autum Johnson, 31, of Swanton to five years in prison and Ian Golbinec, 31, of 6 Hidden Valley Dr. to 4½ years. He also suspended their driver’s licenses for three years.
Both Johnson and Golbinec previously pleaded guilty to one count each of illegal manufacture of drugs, aggravated possession of drugs, aggravated trafficking in drugs, and tampering with evidence.
Jennifer Liptack-Wilson, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court that both defendants had cooperated. Larry Gold, attorney for Johnson, asked for a lesser sentence because of that and because his client was not in charge of the operation.
“This was a mushroom operation. It wasn’t a crack house. It wasn’t a crystal meth lab,” he said.
Both Johnson and Golbinec admitted their roles and apologized to the court.
Still to be sentenced on drug charges in the case are Matthew Thierry, 41, of Whitehouse; Ronald Hammersmith, 44, of 1833 Arlington Ave., and Mikael Stiles, 32, of Swanton. Thierry’s wife, Sara Thierry, 38, is charged with tampering with evidence and obstructing justice in the case. Her case is set for trial March 28.