Big Oak: nine months for Big Oak defendant
LISBON — Amber N. McCauley, one of the Operation Big Oak defendants, was sentenced to nine months in the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville by Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Bickerton last week..
McCauley, 30, East Fourth Street, East Liverpool, previously pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, two counts of trafficking in cocaine, two counts of aggravated possession of drugs and a single count of possession of cocaine.
Special Assistant Prosecutor Allison Archer of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said a plea agreement was reached for a recommended sentence of nine months in prison.
However, Bickerton said she was “very reluctant” to follow the plea agreement.
Defense attorney Christopher Weeda noted McCauley does not have an excuse for why she failed to appear at a Dec. 3 sentencing hearing and had to appear in custody on Monday after she was picked up on the warrant.
Additionally, Bickerton asked Archer if they were aware when the plea agreement was reached that McCauley now has a pending felony case in front of Judge Scott Washam for a crime allegedly committed in April.
Court records show McCauley is charged with theft for allegedly taking Tony Cataldo’s 2004 Chevy Silverado pickup on April 24.
The plea agreement was reached in August. However, Archer said it was one of her colleagues who actually entered the plea agreement and she was not sure what he was or was not aware of when the deal was made.
Bickerton noted McCauley’s actions were not those of someone abiding by her bond conditions, but then sentenced McCauley to the nine months anyway.
The eight counts McCauley pleaded to were a part of the 757-count Operation Big Oak indictment, which included charges for about 100 defendants.
The indictment involved members of Down the Way street gang who were alleged responsible for the distribution of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl, including drug activity occurring in Columbiana, Cuyahoga and Medina counties. The indictments were issued by a special session of the Common Pleas Court grand jury in October of 2017.
Court documents state McCauley was involved in the selling of fentanyl, crack cocaine and heroin, serving as a drug runner for one of the co-defendants, Allen Jackson, and meeting other co-defendants to sell them drugs in the area of Pennsylvania Avenue in March and April of 2017.