A Plymouth man pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally manufacturing methamphetamine.
Jason E. Collier, 33, of 4265 Ohio 61, Lot 3, was convicted of a third-degree felony, which is punishable by nine months to three years in prison. In a plea deal, Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff agreed to dismiss a similar, second-degree felony.
"(There's) no agreement on sentencing," Woodruff said about the plea deal with defense attorney Daniel Wightman.
Collier's conviction is for an investigation led by Willard Police Detective Jeremy Draper, which also involved METRICH, a 10-county drug task force. The probe, which lasted a little more than two weeks, resulted in the Feb. 13 arrests of Collier and his then-live-in girlfriend and co-defendant, Andrea D. Pruitt, 33.
Willard officers and the Huron County Sheriff's Office used a search warrant at a mobile home Collier owned. Woodruff said authorities called in a meth expert from METRICH, who determined the chemicals inside the trailer could be used to manufacture meth.
The expert, in a later report, concluded the chemicals weren't in production.
"So there was no manufacturing taking place," Woodruff explained to Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway.
Collier was indicted in March on one count of illegal manufacture of drugs, a second-degree felony, and in September, was charged with a similar, third-degree felony in September. Woodruff said authorities didn't have the METRICH expert's report about the chemicals not being in production when a Huron County grand jury first indicted Collier and those circumstances led to the second charge.
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.
Between November 2011 and January, Pruitt and Collier bought more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine from about 12 pharmacies in Norwalk, Willard, Shelby and Mansfield, Woodruff said. 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.
Collier is out of jail on a $20,000 bond. He will be sentenced Jan. 8.