COLUMBUS – Three suspects have been indicted in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on a combined 116 counts of conveyance-related charges after an investigation by troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Office of Investigative Services and investigators from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction’s Chief Inspector’s Office.
The investigation began on May 28, 2021, when a drone containing contraband was located inside the perimeter fence of the Toledo Correctional Institution. Through the several months-long investigation, troopers and investigators identified three suspects, Robert A. Faulkner, 33, Columbus; Cory A. Sutphin, 28, Grove City; and Charles Gibbs, 33, Sandusky, who were utilizing drones to convey illegal drugs, phones and other contraband onto the grounds of the Toledo, Mansfield, Richland, and Ross correctional institutions, and the North Central Correctional Complex.
As part of the investigation, a search warrant was executed at Faulkner’s Columbus residence on November 16, 2021, where a total of $319,820 worth of illegal drugs, weapons, cell phones and contraband were located and seized. Troopers and investigators believe the contraband was suspected to be used in future conveyance operations at correctional institutions across the state.
On April 7, 2023, Faulkner (60 felony counts), Sutphin (26 felony counts) and Gibbs (30 felony counts) were indicted. The indictment included engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, trafficking and possession of cocaine and a fentanyl-related compound, possession of criminal tools, aggravated possession of drugs, and having weapons under disability.
If convicted, Faulkner could face a maximum of 142 years in prison; Sutphin could face a maximum of 69 years in prison; and Gibbs could face a maximum of 83 years and six months in prison.