The Williams County Sheriff’s Office recently contracted for a private plane to transport a murder suspect from Florida back to the county.
The plane is owned by two principles of 20/20 Custom Molded Products, a plastics fabricator based in Holiday City, through a limited liability company, according to Brent Wilson.
Wilson is a private pilot who piloted the plane. He also serves as a Sheriff’s Office special deputy and on the Williams County Regional Airport Authority Board. He identified the co-pilot as Dan Schiebel, of Indiana, and said both serve as contract pilots for the limited liability company.
Also on the flight, which took off from the Williams County Regional Airport around 7 a.m. and returned before 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, was Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Mosier, and another special deputy, Rod Miller of West Unity.
The local law enforcement trio picked up Cody Jondreau, 25, of Williams County, from Florida law enforcement at a smaller airport next to the St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport and returned him to Williams County the same day. He was then taken to the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, where he remains incarcerated.
Jondreau fled the county last year after a warrant was issued naming him as a suspect in the killing of his 9-week-old son.
The Polk County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office arrested Jondreau on an out-of-state warrant on May 11, and he was transferred to Pinellas County, Florida, on May 28 to await extradition to Ohio.
Jondreau escaped from the Pinellas County Jail on June 9 by scaling a fence and running across a roof, where he jumped about 11 feet to the ground, the sheriff said. The inmate then scaled another fence and jumped a second time.
Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies chased Jondreau to a nearby business where they fired a stun gun at him and took him into custody, according to the Associated Press.
Jondreau suffered a broken heel bone and had multiple cuts from razor wire that required about 80 sutures.
It was those injuries, the fact that he was a murder suspect and a flight risk, and the exorbitant cost for the U.S. Marshals to transport Jondreau back to Ohio, that led to local sheriff’s office to contract for the plane, Williams County Sheriff Tom Kochert said Friday.
Kochert said the sheriff’s office normally travels to pick up suspects wherever they are to be returned to Williams County to face trial, or they are transported by the Marshals office. But Jondreau had “unique circumstances,” in that as a murder suspect and flight risk, he required heavy security and special efforts because he was injured and unable to walk.
The Marshals quoted him a price of $30,000 to escort Jondreau by commercial plane and Kochert said they told him that it would be virtually impossible to transport Jondreau by ground for similar security reasons, because Jondreau could not be housed in a motel and would have to be housed at night in a local jail.
“And because of the regulations we could not drive him the whole 18 hours in one shot all the way. So driving him was basically off the table,” Kochert said. In addition, Kochert said he could not have armed Williams County deputies travel commercially because of restrictions regarding carrying firearms on commercial airlines after 9/11.
“Flying commercial while armed, even by a deputy, is very, very difficult,” he said.
Enter Wilson, who said he had previously told Kochert that if necessary, Wilson could, with the owner’s permission, have the plane available.
“This was literally the most efficient, and safe, way to return this suspect,” Kochert said, adding the estimated cost was about one-third the cost for the Marshals to return Jondreau by commercial plane.
In addition, Kochert said the Marshals office will only hold suspects for a specific amount of time. The media offices for the U.S. Marshals’ Northern District office was closed Friday due to the Juneteenth holiday.
Wilson said the flight will cost about $13,000, including fuel and other operating costs. And, he said, “We were there and back. We took off at 7 a.m. and were back by 11 (a.m.),” Wilson said.
Miller said the flight was routine, even if the circumstances were not. “It’s the first time in 11 years I’ve been a special (deputy) that I’ve ever taken a plane to do something like (extradite a prisoner).”
Jondreau “was very compliant. He didn’t speak except to say, ‘yes sir, no sir,’” said Miller. He also noted that Florida authorities kept Jondreau’s shirt for evidence, so he flew shirtless.
County Commission President Brian Davis said while unusual, commissioners had no objection to the contractual arrangements.
Kochert said he had no reason to believe there were any issues with making local arrangements to pick up Jondreau in light of the cost savings.
“I’m thankful we had this option. They (Wilson and 20/20) agreed; It’s a local company using the local airport. I was looking around thinking, ‘What other options do I have?’” Kochert said.
County Prosecutor Katie Zartman was out of the office Friday but office investigator Andy Skiles said the office was aware of the trip but was not asked about any legal or ethical concerns and had no other involvement in the issue.
“In the end, it was a significant cost savings. It saved the taxpayers, which I’m one, and it saved the county,” Wilson said.
Jondreau is set to be arraigned in Williams County Common Pleas Court at 9:30 a.m. Monday.