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Leesburg man sentenced to prison for meth trafficking

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article
Bret Swisher. (Highland County Sheriff's Office photo)
Caitlin Forsha, The Highland County Press

A Leesburg man has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a drug trafficking charge in a nearly two-year-old Highland County Task Force case, while also violating terms of community control for a previous conviction.

Bret Swisher, 49, was indicted by a Highland County grand jury in July 2022 on one count of aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine in the vicinity of a school zone, a second-degree felony; two counts of aggravated possession of methamphetamine, both third-degree felonies; and one count of aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine, a third-degree felony.

Court records indicate the indictment remained secret until April 2024. Swisher pleaded guilty June 5 to the aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine in the vicinity of a school zone charge, with the other three charges dismissed.

For that count, it is alleged that on or about Dec. 9, 2021, Swisher sold 3.13 grams of meth to a confidential informant working with the Highland County Task Force. The drug buy occurred in the parking lot of a Highland County business within 1,000 feet of a school, the bill of particulars alleged.

Swisher had been on community control at the time of the alleged offense. The alleged drug buy occurred a little over two months after Swisher pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony aggravated meth trafficking charges in an unrelated case from 2021, which was also the result of a Highland County Task Force investigation.

As noted by Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss, the Highland County Probation Department alleged in April that Swisher had violated four different rules of community control. According to court records, those included allegations of failing to report to the department since April 19, 2022; failing to provide a valid updated address to his probation officer; failing to pay the balance of his court-imposed sanctions in the amount of $10,800.50; and failing to enroll in or complete aftercare for drug treatment.

Highland County Assistant Prosecutor Adam King asked Coss to “impose a term of incarceration” for the 2021 case as well, consecutive to the sentence in the 2022 case.

“The offenses in the new case occurred less than three months after the defendant was placed on community control,” King said. “He’s clearly not amenable to community control.”

Swisher’s defense attorney Denny Kirk said Swisher “saved the resources of a trial” by pleading guilty and had been “very cooperative and very straightforward” in dealing with Kirk.

“Given that we’re already going to be getting a mandatory sentence [in the 2022 case], I would ask the court to consider the lower end of sentencing [in the 2021 case],” Kirk told the judge.

For the 2022 case, Coss sentenced Swisher to a mandatory four years in prison on the new charge, with jail time credit of 50 days. Under the Reagan Tokes Law, Swisher could serve up to two additional years. He was also ordered to pay $175 in restitution to the Highland County Task Force.

In addition, Coss sentenced Swisher to 12 months on each count in the 2021 case, consecutively to each other and consecutively to the 2022 case, for a total of six years in prison.

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