Call for help leads to big drug seizure

Two California women who called police for assistance last week ended up being arrested for allegedly possessing a large amount of marijuana.

According to Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray, officers were called to Economy Inn shortly before midnight last Wednesday for a report of a disturbance.
Ray said that Joana C. Rebollar-Limon, 18, of Anderson, Calif., and Christina K. Phaviseth, 20, of Redding, Calif., told officers that a man had been knocking on their door and window, and “they were scared.”
City officers Brad Ledbetter and Blaine Redman responded to the call, as did Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputies Robert Fritcher and Josh Wattles.
Ray said that officers saw the man, Richard D. Ogle, 27, of Greensboro, N.C., running and captured him. Officers also found that Ogle had allegedly damaged him room at Economy Inn.
The police chief said that while officers were talking to Rebollar-Limon and Phaviseth, they noticed the smell of burnt cannabis coming from their room at the motel.
He said that officers found a small amount, less than 5 grams, of a substance believed to be cannabis in the women’s motel room, and that one of the women admitted that there was more cannabis in their vehicle.
Searching the vehicle, officers found three duffle bags containing what was field-tested to be cannabis, Ray said.
The total weight of the substance, he said, was about 64 pounds, or about 29,000 grams.
Ray said that the estimated street value of the substance believed to be cannabis is more than $350,000.
The two women were arrested on charges of cannabis trafficking (more than 500 grams) and delivery of more than 500 grams of cannabis. Each of the offenses is a Class X felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
On Thursday, the office of Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison filed information charging each woman with cannabis trafficking, manufacture of cannabis with the intent to deliver and possession of cannabis with the intent to deliver, with each charge alleging possession of more than 5,000 grams.
Bond for each woman was set at $75,000.
Fayette County Resident Circuit Judge Don Sheafor appointed Fayette County Public Defender William Starnes to represent Rebollar-Limon and local attorney Emily Fitch to represent Phaviseth, according to court records.
On Monday, Fitch entered her appearance as Rebollar-Limon’s attorney and was allowed to withdraw as Phaviseth’s legal counsel. Starnes was then appointed to represent Phaviseth.
Ogle was arrested last Wednesday morning on charges of criminal damage to property, aggravated battery of a peace officer and criminal damage to state-supported property.
The state’s attorney’s office filed information charging him with disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property up to $10,000 and battery.
Bond was not set in Ogle’s case due to a pending extradition case, according to court records. St. Elmo attorney Rick Day was appointed to represent Ogle.
Also this week, Vandalia Police handled a stabbing incident at Randolph House in Vandalia.
According to VPD Chief Jeff Ray, officers were called on Sunday to Randolph House at the south end of First Street for a report of a stabbing. He said that police were told that a resident had threatened other residents and staff personnel, and had stabbed another resident.
Ray that the resident was stabbed in the back and arm with a steak knife, and was treated at Fayette County Hospital and released.
On Monday, the state’s attorney’s office charged Ashley Banks, 24, with aggravated battery. The charge alleges that Banks, “while using a deadly weapon, being a steak knife” knowingly stabbed another individual.
The aggravated battery charge is a Class 3 felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
Bond was set at $15,000 for Banks, who made her first appearance in court on Monday. A preliminary hearing has been set for March 1. Starnes was appointed to represent Banks.

Officers involved in the seizure of more than 60 pounds of cannabis last week were Brad Ledbetter and Blaine Redman of the Vandalia Police Department, and Robert Fritcher and Josh Wattles of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

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