A Toledo man was sentenced this morning to a mandatory eight-year prison term for helping ship 160 pounds of marijuana from Phoenix to Huron County in the fall.
Earlier this month, a Huron County Common Pleas Court jury found John E. Nunley Jr., 35, guilty of possession of marijuana for the Sept. 20 incident. Several officers involved in the investigation had testified Nunley drove his father's 2002 black Chevrolet pickup truck to pick up four crates of marijuana from R & L Transfer. Authorities from several agencies arrested Nunley and two suspected accomplices on U.S. 250 north of Milan after following the two vehicles from the rural Norwalk business.
Judge James Conway fined Nunley $7,500 and credited the truck, worth about the same amount, toward the fine. The vehicle will be forfeited to the state.
Defense attorney James VanDeilen asked the judge to release Nunley on an appeal bond. Conway denied the request, saying: "The court is not aware of any apparent errors in the proceeding," referring to the trial. The judge later declined to elaborate on the strength of an appeal.
VanDeilen, after today's hearing, said there was "no doubt" Nunley drove the truck, but said is his defense was if his client knowingly possessed or controlled the drugs. The attorney said he planned to appeal as soon as he learned about 100 of the 160 pounds of the same marijuana was "taken from the sheriff."
Suspects broke into a Shady Lane Drive storage area the morning of April 30 by prying open the main door. Nunley, his attorney, court staff and the jurors had been to the barn the previous day to see how the marijuana had been packaged before the trial started.
Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler has said it was "a heck of a circumstance" Nunley was at the jury view before the theft. He also said he has "a sneaking suspicion it's not some stranger on the street."
VanDeilen said his client has denied being involved.
"As far as I know, the prosecutor considers him a suspect. That's the absolute worst thing that could have happened him for that stuff to come up missing," he said.
Nunley's co-defendants in the Sept. 20 offense, Marcos M. Jaso, 35, and Carlos Torres Jr., 31, both of Toledo, are scheduled to go to trial in July.