Meth maker sent to slammer

Cary Ashby • Jan 10, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Convicted methamphetamine manufacturer Jason E. Collier told the court he knows that buying a crucial ingredient in making the highly addictive illegal stimulant was wrong.

At the same hearing Tuesday, his attorney said his client's involvement was "minimal" and done "on behalf" of Collier's co-defendant, while essentially placing blame on the man's former live-in girlfriend and the mother of his son.

Collier, 34, of 8247 Ohio 61, Lot 3, Plymouth, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $5,000 -- the mandatory minimum for illegally manufacturing methamphetamine. His driver's license also was suspended for six months.

"Mr. Woodruff hit the nail on the head," Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said, referring to Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff. "While we struggle with heroin (use) here, we don't want to do anything to encourage methamphetamine use."

Collier, in late November, pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony in exchange for the state dismissing a similar, second-degree felony.

Willard Police Detective Jeremy Draper led an investigation which lasted a little more than two weeks and involved METRICH, a 10-county drug task force. The probe resulted in the Feb. 13 arrests of Collier and his then-live-in girlfriend and co-defendant, Andrea D. Pruitt, 33.

Police and the Huron County Sheriff's Office used a search warrant at a mobile home Collier owned. Authorities called in a meth expert from METRICH, who determined the chemicals inside could be used to manufacture meth, but he later concluded they weren't in production.

Pruitt, in early May, pleaded guilty to attempted illegal manufacture of drugs. On June 29, she was ordered to complete the Christian-based Teen Challenge substance abuse program as part of her three years of intense probation.

"I believe she is in rehabilitation, drug treatment," Collier's defense attorney, Daniel Wightman, said Tuesday. "She had a very serious drug problem."

Collier and Pruitt lived together for many years.

"(My client) made several attempts to get her out of the environment he was in," Wightman said. "He wasn't using any drugs."

The couple eventually moved from South Carolina to Huron County.

Wightman said Collier, worried about their son, moved out of the mobile home he shared with Pruitt and moved in with his aunt and uncle. Collier's son now is living in South Carolina with Pruitt's mother.

"His major concern was the welfare of his son," Wightman said.

Between November 2011 and January 2012, Pruitt and Collier bought more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine from about 12 pharmacies in Norwalk, Willard, Shelby and Mansfield. Pseudoephedrine is considered a crucial ingredient in making meth, a highly addictive illegal stimulant often cooked in homes with flammable components. According to the Ohio Revised Code, individuals are prohibited from buying more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine within a period of 30 days.

"I am guilty of buying the pseudoephedrine for Andrea," said Collier in a brief comment Tuesday in which he said he knew what he did was wrong.

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