The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 1, 2014

Conneaut meth labs found at two locations

Felony charge awaits local man

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — A round-about route helped Conneaut police find drug-making operations at two different Harbor Street locations Monday, according to reports.

Joseph J. Stern, 32, 781 Harbor St., No. 8, was arrested at the final stop of the two-stop sweep. He faces a felony charge of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, as well as misdemeanor charges of possession of drug abuse instruments and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Stern was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Conneaut Municipal Court. A Monday morning preliminary hearing has been tentatively scheduled on the felony charge, a court spokeswoman said. Bond was set at $15,000 cash/surety, and Stern will be represented at the hearing by a public defender. Bond was set at $1,000 cash/surety combined on the two misdemeanor charges, the spokeswoman said.

The investigation began with a report shared by the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office regarding methamphetamine activity at a Harbor Street house, said Police Chief Charles Burlingham. Officers discovered the remnants of several drug labs in the trash outside a garage on the property, he said.

Information obtained at the scene led police to an apartment building on Harbor. Outside was a man officers discovered was carrying two pipes used to smoke meth. The man gave police permission to search his apartment, and officers found items used to make the drug in a bedroom, according to a report.

Other drug-related incidents have occupied city police over the past few days. On Sunday, a West Main Road man told officers he discovered syringes and pills left behind by a previous resident. One day earlier, a Pennsylvania woman called police to report finding a syringe in a child’s coat she had bought at a local store. The needle was discovered after the child had worn the coat, officers said.

Also, a Conneaut woman was found in possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia in her Maple Avenue apartment on Friday. The woman’s probation officer advised police of the situation, according to a report.