County man gets community control for drugs

LISBON — An East Palestine man who was mail ordering synthetic marijuana from China with plans to provide it for sale was placed on four years community control this week by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike.

Ryan J. Theodore, 37, West Martin Street, East Palestine, pleaded guilty in mid-March to attempted trafficking in drugs and two counts of possession of drugs. Sentencing had been set for May 23, but Theodore changed attorney’s hiring, Kenneth Lewis, and requesting permission to withdraw his plea. In the end, Pike denied the request and Lewis represented Theodore at this week’s sentencing hearing.

According to Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones, in November of 2014, Theodore had ordered a package of synthetic marijuana in the mail, which was intercepted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Theodore reportedly intended to sell to a store owner of a business in Pennsylvania, where it would be resold. In addition to the synthetic marijuana, Theodore also had alprazolam in his possession on the same date.

Lewis told Pike his client has some issues with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for which he is being medicated. Theodore also suffers from severe anxiety, which Lewis said led to his decision to try to withdraw his pleas. Lewis added Theodore’s crimes did not harm anyone and he believed for his first felony conviction his client would be an “ideal candidate” for community control.

“I’m sorry,” Theodore told Pike. “I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t know it was illegal.”

Pike said he is concerned about Theodore’s past drug use, but also about his health issues. At one point, Theodore said he has remained “clean” except for marijuana for a number of years. Pike reminded him that while on community control he must not use any drugs, not even marijuana.