Running drug ring out of jail costs woman decade in prison
NEWARK – Judge Thomas Marcelain was blunt in his assessment of Jennifer Burns-Harman Thursday afternoon.
“You’re just a criminal,” he told her. “What a cancer you have been to Licking County, even at the Justice Center.”
The comments came as Marcelain sentenced Burns-Harman to 10 years behind bars for organizing and running a methamphetamine trafficking ring from the confines of the jail.
Burns-Harman, 33, of Newark, entered a guilty plea to a single count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, before Marcelain Thursday afternoon.
Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Hawken Flanagan said after Burns-Harman had been arrested on Oct. 30, she began making phone calls to associates to arrange for methamphetamine to be picked up from her supplier.
Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 7, Burns-Harman made phone calls arranging for these sales and money from the sales would then be put on Burns-Harman’s jail commissary account to help pay for the phone calls, Flanagan said.
More than $1,500 was seized from Burns-Harman’s commissary account as part of the investigation into her activity. That money was forfeited to the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force as part of Thursday’s hearing.
Thursday, Burns-Harman’s attorney, Eric Brehm, said his client had gone from being a registered nurse to a convicted felon who will have spent years in prison, all because of her drug addiction.
“She’s absolutely ruined her life,” Brehm said.
Burns-Harman told Marcelain she intended to use her new time in prison better than she did while serving time for a prior drug conviction.
“I didn’t use my time wisely and I won’t make that mistake again,” she said.
Burns-Harman also apologized for abusing the privileges afforded her at the Licking County Justice Center.
Marcelain adopted a joint recommendation for the 10 year prison sentence, all of which is mandatory. The maximum possible sentence would have been 11 years in prison.
James R. Parker, 35, Joshua Webster, 37, and Tylor Lemay, 26, have all been charged with multiple felonies in relation to their roles in the trafficking ring. They have all entered not guilty pleas and their cases are pending.
Flanagan said two additional counts against Burns-Harman were set to be dismissed as part of a plea agreement involving a separate case.
The second case involved a third-degree felony charge of trafficking in drugs. Burns-Harman had been scheduled to enter a guilty plea in that case, but changed her mind Friday morning.
That case will now be set for trial.