A former prison guard who was bribed by an undercover officer to smuggle drugs into the Toledo Correctional Institution was spared a prison sentence yesterday and instead placed on probation for four years.
Jeffery Maier, 51, was fired in February after authorities said he attempted to take about four ounces of marijuana into the state prison at 2001 East Central Ave.
Judge James Bates said going to prison would be the appropriate punishment for violating the public trust, but he decided to deviate slightly and impose an alternative punishment of four years of community control.
"I probably should be putting you in prison, but I am not," he said.
Maier, of 4211 Cheyenne Blvd., was ordered by Judge Bates to spend the first six months of the community control sentence in the court's drug treatment facility.
He also was fined $500 and must pay court costs.
Maier had been employed in the state prison system since October, 2003, and worked as a corrections officer at TCI since August, 2007.
He entered a no contest plea on April 8 to illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a correctional facility. In return, prosecutors dismissed a marijuana trafficking charge.
In pleading for a lenient sentence, the defendant's attorney, Tom Tomczak, said his client had transferred from a prison in southeast Ohio to Toledo, where there were better facilities to treat his autistic daughter.
Mr. Tomczak said taking $600 from an undercover officer was an "incredibly stupid move" that has left Maier's life in ruin.
Before learning his sentence, Maier told Judge Bates that taking the marijuana from the officer was a terrible mistake and that he had planned to throw the drugs away.
"I had no intention of doing it. My conscience got the better part of me," he said.
Judge Bates told Maier that he could go to prison for two years if he should violate the community control sentence.