Detectives testify in 'magic mushroom' case

Cary Ashby • Apr 10, 2014 at 9:20 AM

A detective testified Wednesday the same confidential informant bought "mushrooms" on three occasions from a Norwalk woman in Monroeville.

Heather M. Hodgkinson, 33, of 107 E. Main St., Apt. 2, is charged with three counts of trafficking in psilocybin in connection with incidents on Sept. 11, 13 and 17, 2012. Psilocybin is a solid hallucinogenic crystalline and the main ingredient in what's known as "magic mushrooms."

Huron County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Josh Querin and Detective Rich Larson testified for the state Wednesday in the trial that started Tuesday afternoon. Larson said he transported the suspected drugs from the sheriff's office, where they had been logged in as evidence, to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for testing.

Querin shared with Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Dina Shenker how he ended up using a confidential informant to reportedly buy mushrooms from Hodgkinson. The detective said the informant contacted him and reported he would be able to buy drugs from the defendant, whom he said was making transactions in Monroeville.

The informant started working for the sheriff's office in June 2012.

"He was getting paid $75 per buy. ... He worked hard for 12 to 18 months," Querin said from the stand. "I think there were 26 (controlled buys) in the 12 to 18 months. ... I think there were about nine different defendants."

The suspected Hodgkinson-related drug buys happened at a North Street apartment in Monroeville while Querin and another deputy or detective maintained nearby surveillance. In each of the incidents, Querin said they dropped off the informant north of the apartment complex and he paid $30 for 3 grams of psilocybin, which he received in plastic sandwich bags.

Querin testified the first two transactions happened inside the apartment, but the third one -- Sept. 17, 2012 -- was outside and was from a vantage point he could see.

"There appeared to be a hand-to-hand transaction," the detective said.

Detective Sgt. Bill Duncan, the informant and two BCI scientists testified for the state. The trial continued this morning.

In November, the court appointed defense attorney James Joel Sitterly after Hodgkinson had a disagreement with Huron County Public Defender David Longo.

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