MILLERSBURG -- A Millersburg woman who admitted to her role in the sale of methamphetamine to a confidential informant was given a unique opportunity, avoiding incarceration so that she can be reunited with her children.
Corrine Simpson, 27, of 261 N. Washington St., previously pleaded guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to aggravated trafficking in meth, possession of meth and two counts of child endangering.
On Thursday, March 2, she told Judge Robert Rinfret she's spent the time since her July arrest satisfying Holmes County Juvenile Court obligations required for her to regain custody of her children.
The children were removed from her custody as a result of the incident; however, Louella Gilbert, of Holmes County Job and Family Services, said Simpson has made significant progress on her case plan and is on the verge of getting her children back.
For her part, Simpson said, her criminal activity was directly related to her relationship with a man, with whom she no longer is involved. She said she previously had no knowledge of drugs and did not realize that by participating in the transaction she was committing a felony.
The 29 days she spent in the Holmes County Jail were "the worst," she said. "There's no way to explain it. In all, I found my way back to God, and it was a real wake-up call. It broke my heart that I put my kids in danger like that. That's the hardest thing."
Simpson has made great strides to seek and participate in counseling and find employment, according to Holmes County Adult Probation Officer Dee Stidham, noting, "I think that she understands what the potential consequences (for current and future violations) are, for not only her, but her children."
Despite the positive reviews and Simpson's claims she was unaware of the criminality of her actions, Holmes County Assistant Prosecutor F. Christopher Oehl suggested she is not only denying culpability by minimizing her actions.
As evident on video of the drug transaction, Simpson can be seen greeting the informant and is holding a child in her arms as she hands over the drugs.
She discusses with the informant the need to "just make sure it's good" during a conversation about not only the quality, but quantity and cost.
Simpson, according to Oehl, was "deeply involved in the transaction" and twice sold drugs to the confidential informant. Consequently, Oehl asked Rinfret to "hold her accountable as strongly as you can."
But, her discussions with the informant were guided by her boyfriend, who "told me what to tell him," Simpson told Rinfret, adding, "My idea of trafficking was someone who makes it and takes it to a different place."
And, it wasn't until she participated in counseling that she learned "what all was in drugs," she said, adding, "Learning that is what led me to despise myself. I didn't realize how dangerous it was to have my son in arms and handing that to someone. It's hard to know that's what I've done. Now, I do realize that it's dangerous -- having it in my house, having it in my body."
Admittedly "really strict on drug trafficking, especially when there's a child involved," Rinfret told Simpson, "I think you're sincere. I really do. And, I think you've done what you have to do."
In imposing a sentence absent incarceration, he said, "I'm about to do something I've never done before.
"Meth kills people. I listen to (Gilbert), and I want to get you back with your kids," he said, noting that by giving Simpson a lengthy, although suspended, prison sentence, "I'm giving you a break. And, If you screw up, you're looking at a very long time.
"In essence, I'm giving you a break, but maybe I'm not. If you screw up, you're going to prison," he said.
He sentenced Simpson to a total of 27 months in prison, which was suspended in favor of five years of community control sanctions, to include community service and an obligation she seek and maintain employment.
She was ordered to pay $50 in restitution, as well as all court costs and the fees and expenses of her court-appointed attorney.
"I have never done that before, in six years. I have never (completely) suspended someone who has sold drugs," said Rinfret, noting, "You have two kids. If you screw up, you will spend every day of 27 years in prison. Normally, I would put you in the county jail, but I want you back with your kids."
The charges stem from incidents occurring on July 24.
That's when Simpson reportedly sold, for $50, about half a gram of meth to a confidential informant who had gone to her home, according to LEAD Task Force Commander Joe Mullet, who said at the time of the alleged transaction, Simpson was holding a young child and another child was inside the residence.
Subsequent to the sale, officers from the task force, the Millersburg Police Department and Holmes County Sheriff's Office obtained and executed a search warrant on Simpson's apartment, in which they found more suspected drugs, drug paraphernalia and cash.
Simpson, who was home at the time of the search, was arrested without incident.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.