Former corrections officer among 7 who plead guilty in prison meth ring

Seven people involved in a conspiracy to smuggle methamphetamine into a state prison, including a former corrections officer, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court.

The defendants were charged in September 2017 in a three-count indictment.

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James Barlage Jr., of Chillicothe, a former corrections officer at Chillicothe Correctional Institution and Anthony Scott Blankenship, 32 of Columbus, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

CCI inmates Edward E. Bellman, 45, of Miamisburg; Mario Evans, 40, of Dayton; and Moses M. Stevens, 53, of Xenia; as well as Jamey L. Naegele, 47, of Brookville, each pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

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Jon Christopher Birt, 50, of Dayton, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams or more of meth in a separate case.

As part of the conspiracy, the defendants used an unauthorized cellular telephone from within the prison to communicate regarding the payment and transportation of the meth.

On July 14, 2017, Barlage was stopped by law enforcement while in possession of about 13 grams of meth he intended to smuggle into CCI.

On July 18, 2017, Blankenship was stopped by law enforcement while in possession of 34 grams of methamphetamine.

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U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, FBI, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Warren County Drug Task Force, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Dominick S. Gerace, Amy M. Smith, and Elizabeth R. Rabe, who are prosecuting the case.

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