Defendants plead innocent to importuning, disseminating charges


By Sarah Hawley - shawley@civitasmedia.com



POMEROY — Two men accused of attempting to meet teenage girls for sex, as well as allegedly sending them photos have pleaded innocent to the charges against them.

James M. Morger, 29, of Loveland (Hamilton County) and Michael B. Smith, 22, of Coolville were arraigned in separate hearings in Meigs County Common Pleas Court on Friday afternoon.

Morger was represented at the hearing by John Kaspar of Lebanon, Ohio, whom his family retained to represent him in the case. Kaspar has previously represented Morger, according to statements made by Kaspar in court.

Morger is charged with fourth-degree felony charges of importuning and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

According to previous Sentinel reports, Morger was arrested in mid-January in Middleport after allegedly driving there from the Cincinnati area to meet a 14-year-old girl to engage in sex. The disseminating charge relates to Morger allegedly sending a picture of his genitalia to a 14-year old female, while the importuning charge falls under the classification as law enforcement posing as the 14 year old whom Morger allegedly thought he was soliciting for sex.

Prosecutor James K. Stanley requested that bond for Morger be set at $100,000 without 10 percent permitted, which was granted by Judge I. Carson Crow.

Kaspar stated that Morger is a father of two children who live with him and is not a flight risk should he be released. Kaspar also noted that the state has possession of Morger’s vehicle which also would go toward him not being a flight risk. Kaspar stated that in representing Morger previously he always appeared for court.

Crow stated that Morger’s prior record could make him a flight risk. Both attorneys confirmed that Morger does have a prior record, although specifics of that record were not stated.

According to previous Sentinel reports, Morger previously pleaded guilty in Warren County to possession of marijuana, attempted illegal manufacture of drugs, and child endangering. Morger was sentenced to a total of three years in prison. According to reports in the Dayton Daily News at the time Morger pleaded guilty to the charges in the case, with the additional charges of possession of criminal tools, disseminating material harmful to juveniles, trafficking in marijuana and possession of drugs dismissed.

Morger remains held on a $100,000 bond in the matter as he awaits pretrial hearings on March 1 and 22, with a jury trial scheduled for April 6.

Smith appeared without counsel for arraignment and stated that he was trying to save up money to hire an attorney. Crow inquired as to whether Smith would qualify for a court appointed attorney and determined he would not be eligible.

Smith is charged with fifth-degree felony charges of importuning and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. An innocent plea was entered on his behalf to both charges.

Smith was arrested in Jan. 6 outside a residence where he was allegedly going to meet at 13-year-old in order to engage in sex. Smith had allegedly sent pictures of his genitalia, as well as allegedly solicited the 13 year old on several occasions, according to previous reports.

Stanley requested bond for Smith be set at $50,000 without 10 percent permitted.

Asked if he wished to address bond, Smith stated that if he was unable to get out of jail then he would not have a job, and therefore not be able to hire counsel.

Crow went with the recommendation of the state and set bond at $50,000 without 10 percent permitted.

Smith was arrested on Thursday evening after a warrant was issued for his arrest on the indictment.

Pretrial hearings in Smith’s case are scheduled for March 1 and 22, with a jury trial scheduled for April 6.

By Sarah Hawley

shawley@civitasmedia.com

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews