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State to move forward with drug charges

A confidential informant involved in numerous drug cases was reportedly missing last week and Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning said Tuesday he plans to continue prosecuting the cases.

Henning would not comment on whether the informant has been located, but said if he was missing, the state would continue with prosecution.

"I plan to move forward as I am able," Henning said.

On July 29, authorities arrested 17 people for alleged drug activity in Stark County. Many were arrested with the help of information obtained by the informant.

Defense attorneys could ask the court to exclude all evidence produced by the informant, he added.

"They could say anything that's produced by that absent witness, we want excluded because we can't cross-examine an absent witness and the question there becomes whether or not the prosecution can show the necessary elements without the, you know, informant's testimony," Henning said.

Audio recordings would help keep the evidence in court, he added.

"You can establish recognition of voices, that kind of thing, to where it's not entirely possible to go forward without a particular witness," Henning said. "It's just something that has to be reviewed by a judge."

Kevin McCabe is representing several clients who were charged in connection to the informant and said it's unclear what his next step will be.

"If the state wants to continue prosecuting, we react to what they do," McCabe said.

Patricia Kuntz, 30, who is accused of selling prescription drugs to the confidential informant, had a pretrial conference scheduled Tuesday.

However, a second charge of delivering prescription drugs will be consolidated with the first charge so hearings can be scheduled simultaneously. Another pretrial date will be set for both charges.