Friday, January 12, 2001

Grand jury gets drug case

Defense alleges police 'setup'

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — A defense lawyer on Thursday alleged his college-student client may have been snared in a “setup” drug deal last fall as a pre-election publicity stunt.

        But Butler County sheriff's officials say that claim is baseless, especially because officers had no way of knowing whether a drug transaction would be completed.

        “Day or night, before or after the election, we're going to enforce the drug laws,” said sheriff's Maj. Anthony Dwyer, responding later in the day to attorney Michael Shanks' allegations. “We do not choose people who choose to deal with dope. They choose themselves.”

        Mr. Shanks represents Justin Baker, who appeared in Butler County Area I court for a preliminary hearing Thursday on a charge of possession of cocaine, a first-degree felony. Mr. Baker's co-defendant, Stephen Wolf, previously pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for his agreement to testify against Mr. Baker, who remains free on bond.

        The case has been high-profile because the pair were accused of having $50,000 worth of cocaine and because their parents are prominent in Hamilton. Mr. Baker's mother is Janet Baker, superintendent of Hamilton City schools; Mr. Wolf's father is lawyer Myron Wolf.

        After Thursday's hearing, Judge Rob Lyons found sufficient evidence to send the case to a grand jury.


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