Traverse City Record-Eagle

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September 18, 2012

Attorney convicted of sneaking drugs to inmate

BELLAIRE — A Grand Rapids attorney who slipped drugs to an Antrim County Jail inmate could spend time in prison and find his law license at risk.

An Antrim jury found John Oren Waters, 43, guilty of one count of delivery a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to do the same. The jury reached its verdict after two and a half days of trial.

Authorities deal with countless drug delivery cases, but this one was far from ordinary.

"It's the first time I've seen something like this. You scratch your head for a lot of reasons," said Antrim assistant prosecutor Jim Rossiter, who handled the case. "When you invest as much as you do in a professional career, to do something like this that jeopardizes that, I have a hard time understanding it."

Waters remains in jail. He could face up to seven years in prison at sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Rossiter said Waters gave Suboxone — a drug used to treat opiate addiction — to a female inmate he met with in May 2011. The inmate, Jenny Ketz, was in jail on drug charges. She testified that he gave the drug to her, Rossiter said, and her sister testified that she gave him the drugs for delivery.

There also was testimony that indicated Waters snuck heroin to Ketz while she was in the Kent County Jail.

Rossiter isn't surprised the drugs weren't found on Waters when he arrived at the jail.

"You're not expecting an officer of the court to be involved in this type of behavior," he said. "Professional visitors don't go through the vigorous searches that other visitors do."

Antrim County Undersheriff Dean Pratt said attorneys aren't thoroughly searched and are left unsupervised with inmates, though that likely will change. The jail is re-working its policies and will soon implement stricter guidelines, he said, pending a legal review to make sure those guidelines won't affect attorney-client privileges.

Antrim Prosecutor Charles Koop notified the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission of Waters' convictions on Monday. Officials there couldn't be reached for comment.

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