|Pair found guilty on drug charges
April 9, 2011
By CHRISTOPHER BOBBY – reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tribune Chronicle | TribToday.com
WARREN – A man and woman from Warren, who prosecutors say imported a sizable quantity of cocaine and heroin from Detroit, were found guilty Friday of drug charges and could face enhanced prison sentences from a judge later this month.
A jury of four men and eight women spent most of Friday afternoon deliberating before finding Frederick Johnson and his one-time girlfriend, Brandi Lynn Watson, both of Wallace Street S.E., guilty of first- and second-degree felony charges of heroin and cocaine possession. Judge Peter Kontos heard the case.
Assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker said Johnson, 40, who previously served prison time for drugs, faces more than a 30-year maximum sentence, and Watson, 27, faces more than 25 years. Kontos set sentencing for April 25.
Becker told jurors how, although agents with Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force were already investigating Johnson and Watson, it was a high-speed chase through Warren Jan. 15, 2010, that broke the case open.
Becker said TAG agents had two places under surveillance and were following a car carrying both defendants, a .40 caliber Glock pistol, nearly 400 grams of heroin and 4.5 ounces of cocaine when the chase started through the east side, sometimes reaching speeds of 70 mph.
At one point on Porter Street N.E., the car driven by Johnson rammed an undercover car driven by a TAG agent.
The drugs and the gun were thrown out of the car and later recovered by police, and both suspects escaped from the vehicle on Belvedere Avenue, running in different directions. Watson was arrested later that night in a garage on Atlantic Street, and Johnson turned himself into his parole officer in Liberty within a couple days.
Although Johnson did not testify, Watson took the witnesses stand Thursday, attempting to convince jurors that Kenneth Cook, an informant in the case, was the one driving the car. Her statements contradicted an unrecorded statement she made to TAG Detective Fred Raines and a federal agent several hours after the chase.
Cook is a mechanic who had borrowed money from Johnson to start a business and who has pleaded guilty to a drug charge and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Becker praised all TAG agents, including Raines and lead investigator Rick Tackett.