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INMATE DEATH - Bond set at $90,000 for accused drug smuggler

Aaron Krause • Mar 14, 2012 at 2:02 PM

A Huron County Jail inmate accused of smuggling pills and tablets into the facility and trading them for commissary items must post a $90,000 bond before being released from custody. Those pills led to the overdose of three female inmates, one of whom died.

Norwalk Municipal Court Judge John Ridge made that ruling on Tuesday during Mindy L. Gallagher's bond hearing. (NOTE - To see more pictures related to this story, click HERE.)

Gallagher, of Fostoria, is charged with conveyance of prohibited items into a detention facility, trafficking in drugs and theft of drugs. Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard has said Gallagher distributed the opiates-based drugs to nine female inmates. Howard told the Reflector that Gallagher admitted during an interview she put the drugs in her vagina to smuggle them into the jail.

Gallagher and two other inmates were taken to Fisher-Titus Medical Center due to suspected drug overdoses. A fourth inmate was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. One of the inmates, 20-year-old Jesika L. Skelton, died early Sunday morning at Fisher-Titus.

Ridge set Gallagher's hearing for 1:30 p.m. March 16 at municipal court. The defendant can wave her right for a prosecutor to present evidence at the hearing. If she does, Ridge would bound her case over to Huron County Common Pleas Court for a possible grand jury indictment.

At Tuesday's bond hearing, Gallagher answered Ridge's questions in a barely audible voice. She told the judge she has no money to hire an attorney and doesn't own property.

Ridge told Gallagher he could not appoint the county public defender to represent her because he's representing a co-defendent or potential witness stemming from her case. Ridge added that would amount to a conflict of interest. Ridge assured Gallagher he would appoint an attorney for her.

In regards to bond, Norwalk Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel told Ridge Gallagher was arrested for theft in 2008 and transferring drugs in 2009. Christophel also said Gallagher is accused of a very serious crime. He recommended a $90,000 bond, which Ridge imposed. If she posts bond, she's not allowed to possess or consume controlled substances.

Seneca County authorities have placed a holder on Gallagher for a probation violation. That means she'll be released to the Seneca County Sheriff's Office if she posts bond at the jail.

If Gallagher is convicted of the recent conveyance charge, she faces nine months to three years in prison. The trafficking charge is punishable by six to 18 months behind bars.

Gallagher remained in custody as of early Tuesday evening.

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