Man seeks to overturn conviction

LISBON – A man convicted earlier this year on drug charges is claiming that decision should be overturned because of a state investigation into the Columbiana County Drug Task Force.

Gregory Lewis Bradley Jr. was convicted by a jury in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court following a trial which included testimony from DTF members. The charges against Bradley included four counts of drug trafficking and two counts of drug possession.

As part of his appeal, Bradley filed as an exhibit a copy of the Morning Journal article talking about the state investigation into the books of the DTF. Among those to testify at Bradley’s trail was DTF Director Dan Downard, who was replaced as the agency’s leader once the investigation began.

Bradley filed the appeal himself from the Richland Correctional Institute, where he is serving nine years. Following the jury’s verdict, he was sentenced this past February for selling crack cocaine and oxycodone in late October and November of 2009.

The investigation into the DTF was prompted by Sheriff Ray Stone, who reportedly saw discrepancies in the books of the DTF, changed the locks on the office and called in the state Bureau of Criminal Information and Investigation.

At the Nov. 26, 2012 meeting of the Drug Task Force Board, Downard was replaced by Brian McLaughlin, who in subsequent months was given permission to close all the financial accounts of the department and open new ones. The board also approved a new policy for handling seized drug money, which was previously being held in a safe at the DTF evidence room, but is now being placed in a separate bank account.

The investigation began after Stone received information about an issue with a cell phone being used by someone who was not DTF personnel.