An Ohio woman and her live-in boyfriend were allegedly at the center of one of central Ohio's biggest drug operations — but she claims she was doing it all for her kids.
“She only wanted to sell enough to buy a farm and put one of her children through college,” Janet Gartner's attorney told the court after Gartner, 41, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking.
But a judge was not sympathetic, telling Gartner, "What you were doing kills people ... what you were doing destroys lives, all so you can buy a farm," as he handed down a prison sentence to the mother of five, according to local outlet Zanesville Times-Recorder.
The judge sentenced Gartner October, 21 to 11 years in prison on two counts of trafficking methamphetamine and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, all first-degree felonies with major drug offender specifications. Gartner had pleaded guilty before sentencing, The Associated Press reported.
Authorities say that in April, the pair agreed to sell a pound of meth for $6,500 to a person who was in fact a confidential informant working for the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office.
The deal took place in two transactions over a three-day time period at a local McDonald's restaurant. There, the controlled buy was recorded on video and sent to detectives and police watching nearby. Gartner was arrested after the second transaction was completed, according to Y-City News.
Following her arrest, police obtained warrants to search her vehicle on the scene, as well as her home. The searches recovered more than $165,000, four vehicles, four ATVs, one UTV and a trailer, multiple firearms, and narcotics — including at least five pounds of methamphetamine and 50 pounds of marijuana, the local outlet reports.
Gartner's live-in boyfriend, Nicholas Tony Blair, is set to face trial next month on similar charges, and he has not yet entered a plea.
The woman's attorney invoked an emotional defense of her client, saying she considered Gartner a friend, "more than a client," Zanesville Time-Recorder reports.
"I've visited with her more than I probably have any other client in my seven-year career. She was in a severe domestic violence relationship that she finally got herself out of a few years ago. She met someone who was outstanding to her and her family," defense attorney Nicole Churchill told the court.
Churchill also contended her client, who worked as housekeeper, never used drugs herself and would have stopped selling them once she made enough money.
"When the drugs were gone, it was going to be over," Churchill said. "She would go back and be content on cleaning rich people's toilets."
Judge Mark Fleegle was unmoved by the attorney's pleas, saying the crimes committed deserved punishment and told Gartner that her actions kill people and destroy lives.
“That can never be rationalized in my mind,” Fleegle said.
Fleegle noted it would have been easy for Gartner to fall back on selling drugs again had she found herself short on money.
In addition to the sentence, the judge also ordered that proceeds from the forfeited items and money should be divided evenly among the three Ohio counties that led the investigation.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.