Ex-jailer pleads to smuggling in drugs

LISBON — A former corrections officer at the county jail pleaded guilty in Common Pleas Court this week to charges regarding smuggling drugs into the jail.

Melissa M. Barnhart, 40, 18th Street Heights, Wellsville, pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal conveyance of drug abuse on the grounds of detention facility. The maximum sentence for the charges leaves her facing up to six years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Judge Megan Bickerton ordered a pre-sentencing investigation to include an evaluation for possible placement at the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center. Sentencing is set for April 26.

While working as a corrections officer at the county jail, which is privately operated by GEO Corrections and Detention LLC, brought vicodin into the facility about the third week of September 2017. She utilized a modified Monster Energy can in order to conceal the narcotics.

The second counts was for bringing in marijuana starting in August and continuing into September 2017.

Barnhart was arrested in December 2017, after investigators and the warden, acting on a tip began questioning her when she had arrived for work. After speaking with her, she was taken into custody.