West Jeff man enters guilty plea

By Jane Beathard

February 15, 2014

A West Jefferson man, who was jailed in January after two months on the lam, pleaded guilty to heroin possession and trafficking charges on Friday, Feb. 14.

Michael R. Friend, 41, admitted in Madison County Common Pleas Court to possessing a large amount of heroin on Aug. 21, 2013 and dealing the drug four times between Aug. 5-8, 2013. An additional trafficking charge, as well as a charge of possessing criminal tools, were dismissed by the prosecutor’s office.

Friend faces up to 7.5 years in prison and a $22,500 fine for the convictions. He’s also eligible for community control, pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation.

Judge Eamon Costello set sentencing for April 24.

In the meantime, Friend remains in Tri-County Regional Jail without bond.

Friend was indicted in September, following an investigation by the county drug task force. He was arraigned in October and released after posting a $25,000 cash or surety bond.

But he skipped that bond in November, prompting Costello to issue an arrest warrant.

A private investigator from Castle Bail Bonds tracked Friend and re-arrested the man on Jan. 18.

Friend’s wife, Jennifer Friend, 40, pleaded guilty in December to complicity to traffic heroin and was sentenced to 15 days in jail.

In other common pleas court action on Friday:

• William Abernathy, 36, of Mt. Sterling, was charged with two counts of theft and one count of burglary, stemming from incidents between Sept. 19 and Sept. 26, 2013. The alleged victim was elderly, increasing potential penalties.

Costello appointed Thomas Arrington to represent Abernathy at an April 22 trial and ordered the man held on a $20,000 bond.

If he posts bond, Abernathy will be held on house arrest.

• Anthony Hollon, 38, currently an inmate at Mansfield Correctional Institution, was charged with conspiring to smuggle drugs into London Correctional Institution (LoCI) on April 29, 2013. Hollon was an LoCI inmate at the time.

Costello appointed the Ohio Public Defender’s Office to represent Hollon at an April 22 trial.

Hollon is currently serving eight years for burglary in Butler County. He is currently due for release in May 2015.

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.