Galion man gets 30 months for taking marijuana into jail

BUCYRUS — Billy Riddle II, 32, of Galion was found guilty Thursday in Crawford County Common Pleas Court of illegal conveyance of drugs into a detention center, a third-degree felony. He faced up to 36 months in prison, and had 698 days of a prior prison sentence he must serve.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison — and already being on post-release control — Crawford County Judge Sean Leuthold imposed an additional 500 days in jail for the probation violation.

It took a jury of nine women and three men took approximately 90 minutes to find him guilty.

Riddle was represented by attorney Andy Motter of Bucyrus. Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Hoovler represented the Crawford County prosecutor’s office.

The last witness, Riddle told a backstory of his prior run-ins with the law and of his father’s history of drug usage before admitting he was aware there was a warrant for his arrest.

“I did what any man would do with my history, I went undercover,” Riddle said.

Riddle said he wore multiple layers of clothing, wore a pocket knife and a thick leather belt.

“I had no idea I had marijuana in the pocket,” Riddle said.

Riddle answered questioning by Motter by confirming he knew the penalty for marijuana possession.

“Most definitely,” Riddle said. “It’s a minor misdemeanor with a max sentence of six months. In most counties I’d get a ticket and sent on my way.”

Riddle then recalled everything he knew he had on his person at the time of a traffic stop at which he was arrested. He then recalled the search that occurred at the jail. Motter asked if Riddle purposefully took the drugs into the jail and Riddle said he did not. Riddle said he was scatterbrained from the situation.

During a cross-examination, Hoovler said Riddle was asked multiple times if he had drugs or weapons on him and he said he did not, at the time. But he was able to recall specific information about what took place that night.

“You were even able to tell the jury the brand of the knife,” Hoovler said. “When asked (during the traffic stop), you never once admitted anything. That’s some pretty amazing recollection for someone who is scatterbrained”

Earlier in the trial, during the opening statements before the jury, Hoovler explained the circumstances around Riddle’s arrest. Riddle was on post release control following time in prison on a burglary charge.

According to testimonies by both Lt. Craig Moser and Deputy Brian Wozniak of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, during a traffic stop conducted by Moser and Wozniak, Riddle was informed of a warrant for his arrest and was asked multiple times if he had any weapons or drugs on him, which he replied he did not.

A pocket knife was found on Riddle during a search of his person. Riddle was asked twice more on the ride to the jail if he had any contraband on him, and was warned of the charges he could face if he did.

Hoovler told the jury members they would view body camera footage of the traffic stop.

Attorney Andy Motter said his client did not knowingly bring two blunt marijuana cigarettes into the sheriff’s office. He asked the jury to look at the evidence and decide if they believed Riddle’s story

“I believe you will find he did not know he had the marijuana in his pocket,” Motter said.

During a cross-examination, Motter had Moser verify that Riddle was cooperative during the arrest and that Moser had not looked in the watch pocket of Riddle’s jeans where the marijuana was later discovered.

Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonah Watts confirmed suspected marijuana was discovered during a search of Riddle in the search vestibule of the Crawford County Jail.

According to testimony, when Watts asked Riddle what the substance was, Riddle responded, “I don’t know, probably a blunt.”

Motter said Riddle simply forgot he had the two marijuana cigarettes in his pocket and that they were neither for personal use nor for conveyance into a detention center.

During closing arguments, Hoovler said, “(Riddle) had a long list of memories and details down to the amount of change in his pocket., yet he claims he was scatterbrained.”

Hoovler said all the other evidence points to the fact that Riddle knew he had the marijuana in his pocket.

“The most consistent thing in Mr. Riddle’s testimony is that he wasn’t telling the truth about anything,” Hoovler said.

During his conclusion, Motter asked the jury to remember that his client was searched a total of five times before the marijuana was discovered.

“My client had no knowledge that the marijuana was in his pocket but when he saw it he recollected what it was,” Motter said. “Hindsight is 20-20m but it is not knowledge.

“He wasn’t trying to conceal it, he forgot it,” concluded Motter.

After the guilty verdict , Leuthold went immediately to sentencing.

When asked if he had anything to say, Riddle said: “I’ll take my punishment. It didn’t go in my favor. I have had an issue with drugs for a long time. If I walked out of here today I was going to admit myself into a faith based treatment program in Chicago.”

Leuthold replied: “Mr. Riddle that’s the most honest and heartfelt thing I’ve heard you say. You’re one of those people I believe that has a certain bull-headedness about him that shows itself over and over. I don’t know what it’s going to take to turn you around.”


By Kathy Laird

Crawford County Now