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Two from summer drug bust recharged

Two Stark County residents whose drug charges were dropped when a key witness was missing were recharged last week.

Philip Bennett, 33, of Belfield, again faces two counts of delivering a controlled substance, methamphetamine and Douglas Johnson, 49, of Dickinson, is again accused of delivering morphine.

All three charges are Class A felonies.

The men were arrested after law enforcement infiltrated alleged drug activity in Stark County. The operation led to 17 arrests in July.

However, a confidential informant who witnessed much of the alleged drug activity was missing for several months. His absence caused issues in a number of cases and led Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning to drop charges against Bennett and Johnson.

"Where there was an issue before of admissibility of some of my evidence without the confidential informant, that particular roadblock has been overcome," Henning said. "So I don't have any qualms about going forward with the case on its merits."

Bennett and Johnson went through several hearings for their previous charges but will have to repeat the process, Henning said.

"It's a completely new case," Henning said. "They were dismissed without prejudice which means that there were no legal decisions made which would hamper me from being able to use everything that I had previously presented."

Bennett is accused of delivering 1.3 grams of meth to the confidential informant for $700 in April. He is also accused of delivering 2.85 grams of meth to the informant for $900 about a week later, according to his criminal complaint.

Johnson is accused of delivering two morphine pills to the informant for $120 in January 2010, according to his criminal complaint.

They face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count.

Neither man appears to have obtained an attorney. Their phone numbers are not listed.