Big Oak: Date set for Jackson’s trial

LISBON — One of the ringleaders named in the Operation Big Oak indictment appeared for a pretrial in Common Pleas Court on Monday. A jury trial was scheduled for June.

Anthony Jackson, 31, Cleveland, one of the Jackson relatives believed to have led the Down the Way street gang, was found by the U.S. Marshal’s Office in January in the Cleveland area. He was returned to the area to face charges related to Operation Big Oak and another case in Columbiana County where he had already pleaded guilty, but failed to appear for sentencing.

Jackson was sentenced to a year in prison for that case on Friday, a charge of receiving stolen property.

On Monday, he met with his newly appointed defense attorney Gerald Ingram, who requested the Operation Big Oak related jury trial be scheduled sometime in the summer and asked Judge Megan Bickerton to order Jackson held in the county jail for awhile longer so he can meet with him to go over the case. Bickerton agreed to give Ingram until March 4 to meet with Jackson before he is transported to begin his prison sentence.

Jackson’s previous attorney in the case, Kelly S. Linger, asked to be allowed to withdraw as the defense counsel due to a direct conflict of interest. Operation Big Oak was a 757-count indictment, which included charges for about 100 defendants and leading to conflicts with defense attorneys finding in some cases they had been appointed to defend two people involved in the same part of the case and with direct conflicts of interest.

The jury trial has been scheduled for June 11 with a status conference on June 7.

The Down the Way, a Cleveland gang, is believed responsible for bringing 1.4 million doses of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl into Columbiana County.

For his part in the drug ring, Jackson, who is also known as both Rob and Tone, is facing charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, participating in a criminal gang, three counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, three counts of trafficking in heroin, and one count each of trafficking in cocaine, aggravated possession of drugs and tampering with evidence. Some of the charges also contained a forfeiture specification, which claimed Jackson had $614 in his possession believed used in the commission of a felony drug offenses.

The charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity with specification and participating in a criminal gang are both first-degree felonies, which can carry prison terms of up to 11 years each.