By Kristin Rover
Richard Awad, one of several family members involved in a marijuana trafficking operation in Clermont and Hamilton counties, was sentenced to six years in prison May 1.
Awad, 62, of Cincinnati, and his relatives Thomas Sr., 58, and Thomas Jr., 23, of Bethel and Michael Awad, 65, of Cincinnati, were arrested Dec. 27, 2013 after a six month investigation by the Clermont Narcotics Unit and the Cincinnati Police Department Major Drug Offenders Unit, according to Clermont County Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg.
Richard Awad appeared before Clermont County Common Pleas Court Judge Victor Haddad for the sentencing.
Awad’s attorney Ken Zuk discussed Awad’s involvement in the case.
“This wasn’t an every day or every month thing,” Zuk said about the trafficking. “When he and his brothers were tight with cash they engaged in this.”
Zuk said Awad has had problems with substance abuse over the years, but has tested clean and is trying to improve his life.
Zuk said Awad also was cooperative with police during the investigation process.
“He knows he is going to get some time,” Zuk said. “He is asking the court to respond to his cooperation. It is to their credit that they stood up and accepted the responsibility.”
Zuk said Richard Awad took responsibility for his actions and continues to be cooperative during the process.
“He’s a stand up guy and even though he’s had problems, he has a strong moral conviction,” Zuk said. “I would ask the court to impose the lowest possible sentence.”
Haddad said the mandatory prison sentencing for the crime is five to eight years.
“It’s important to the court that you did cooperate and take responsibility,” Haddad said. “But you also committed a crime and should be punished.”
Haddad said this is not the first time Richard Awad has been charged, and while he may have tried, he has not yet turned his life around.
He said he will consider the fact that Awad took responsibility for his actions in the marijuana trafficking.
“I am not going to give you a pass, but the court knows that there are worse things and there are better things,” Haddad said.
Haddad said he also has to take into consideration the amount of marijuana that was involved.
“The court is going to order a period of imprisonment of six years,” Haddad said.
Haddad said he will impose a fine of $7,500 and a five-year license suspension. He also ordered the forfeiture of vehicles and property interest in a property on Beechmont Avenue in Hamilton County.
According to Clermont County Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg, the Awads were involved in smuggling marijuana into Clermont and Hamilton counties from the southwest part of the country.
Search warrants were executed at five locations in Clermont and Hamilton counties on Dec. 23 including 2828 and 1728 Ohio Pike, 3947 Fulton Grove, 571 Marilyn Drive, 488 Elm Drive, in Clermont County, and 6473, 2121, and 2432 Beechmont Avenue in Cincinnati.
Rodenberg said that 316 pounds of marijuana and $25,000 were recovered during the searches.
Almost all of the marijuana was found at 2432 Beechmont Avenue in Hamilton County, and the money was found at 1728 Ohio Pike and 2828 Ohio Pike in Clermont County, according to Rodenberg.
Police also seized 55 firearms, several thousand rounds of ammunition, 10 vehicles, a fishing boat, computers and documents.
Thomas Awad Jr. was sentenced to 36 months in prison for his involvement in the distribution by Haddad on March 20.
Both Michael Awad and Thomas Awad Sr., are awaiting sentencing and have pleaded guilty to the charges against them.
Michael Awad is scheduled for sentencing at 9:30 a.m. June 16 in front of Judge Haddad.
Thomas Awad Sr. is scheduled for sentencing at 9:30 a.m. July 10 in front of Judge Haddad.