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Published: Thursday, 10/31/2013

Former jail officer given probation

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Recognizing that a former corrections officer at the Lucas County jail took responsibility for smuggling tobacco to an inmate and stopped before things got worse, a Lucas County judge Wednesday gave the Toledo woman a suspended jail sentence.

Michelle Vining, 33, of 3646 Drummond Rd., was placed on probation for a year, ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, and told she could not seek employment as a corrections officer or in any type of law-enforcement job.

“You’re in a position of authority. You have suffered a great deal before I impose any sentence,” Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda told her.

Judge Zmuda pointed out that she had resigned from her job of 10 years and forfeited her vehicle. She also did not try to fight what was potentially an improper search of her vehicle by sheriff’s deputies on the day of her arrest nor did she contest the loss of her job, he said.

Ms. Vining pleaded guilty last week to two counts of dereliction of duty, a second-degree misdemeanor, after admitting she took tobacco into the jail and gave it to inmate Jesse Perez twice between Jan. 1 and July 19. She said she had accepted a package later found to contain drugs and marijuana from Salina Perez to give to Jesse Perez on July 20 but that she left it in her vehicle and did not take it into the jail.

Ms. Vining’s attorney, Stevin Groth, said there was no excuse for his client’s actions, but added, “She did not do the things that they wanted her to do.”

Ms. Vining apologized to the court.

“I take responsibility for the decisions that I made,” she said. “I’m sorry to all of the people who were involved — my co-workers, my family, and my friends.”

Ms. Vining, along with Ms. Perez, 29, and Mr. Perez, 33, were indicted on felony counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, trafficking in marijuana, and illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a specified government facility.

Ms. Perez has a hearing Nov. 6, while Mr. Perez, who had been in the jail on an unrelated robbery charge but had posted bond, failed to appear at his last court appearance. An arrest warrant was issued.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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