Five plead guilty to meth charges

Five Mid-Missouri residents have agreed to plead guilty in federal court to charges in connection with a drug bust from January 2010.

Sentencing will take place at a later date for: Robert Owen Barnett Jr., 46, Tipton; Charity Jean Steinbrink, 30, Tipton; Stephen Trivitt, 29, Tipton; Otho Glenn Fowler Jr., 49, Fortuna; and Amber McGhay, 28, Latham.

According to court documents, Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force members were told by a confidential informant that Barnett and Steinbrink were distributing large amounts of methamphetamine in Moniteau and Cole counties.

The informant said Barnett and Steinbrink would travel to the Kansas City area on Sundays and return with methamphetamine.

Authorities learned Barnett and Steinbrink were in Kansas City and would be returning to the Tipton area in a truck and that methamphetamine would be concealed in a red tire jack in the rear of the truck.

Officers set up surveillance at several points in Cooper and Morgan counties. Officers located the truck on Missouri 5, south of Interstate 70 in Cooper County, and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle for a traffic violation.

Charity Steinbrink was the driver and Barnett was the passenger.

Steinbrink was asked for consent to search the vehicle, and she denied consent. She stated the vehicle was not hers and that it belonged to her friend.

A K-9 unit was called in, and the dog made a positive alert for the presence of drugs on the front driver side of the bed of the truck.

Steinbrink was then asked for the keys and reluctantly handed them over.

Officers located a red tire jack in the bed of the truck. When they unscrewed the top of the jack, they found a baggie that contained a large amount of a crystal substance which field-tested positive for methamphetamine with a weight of approximately three ounces.

Officers searched the interior of the vehicle and located $503, three separate plastic bags with approximately one gram each of methamphetamine, one plastic bag containing several smaller empty plastic bags, nine cell phones, drug paraphernalia and a radar detector.

Barnett and Steinbrink were arrested for drug trafficking.

Officers were able to recover a substantial amount of information from the phones, including address books containing names and numbers of individuals known to be involved in illegal drug activity, text messages making clear references to drug quantities and prices, and information by which one phone could be linked to Barnett, and multiple phones could be linked to Steinbrink.

This information eventually led authorities to Trivitt, who was identified as a customer of Steinbrink. Among the text messages recovered from Steinbrink’s cell phone records are several messages sent by Trivitt.

Agents discerned from these texts that Trivitt was ordering an “eight ball” (a term used to describe one-eighth of an ounce or 3.5 grams of an illegal substance) of methamphetamine, and was trying to find out when Steinbrink would return from Kansas City.

Trivitt later told authorities he met Barnett and Steinbrink in spring 2009, living in the same apartment complex as Steinbrink.

He admitted sending texts to Steinbrink in the past. When asked about the message referencing a basketball, Trivitt initially denied sending the message, claiming someone else may have borrowed his cell phone.

Trivitt did acknowledge that “basketball” was a slang term for an eight ball of methamphetamine and ultimately admitted sending the texts.

Trivitt admitted purchasing methamphetamine from Steinbrink on three occasions in 2009. Trivitt was aware that Steinbrink and Barnett were methamphetamine dealers, and knew they made runs to Kansas City to obtain large quantities of methamphetamine.

Another of the individuals who was sending text messages to Steinbrink’s phone was identified as Fowler.

Fowler was interviewed regarding his involvement with Barnett and Steinbrink, and admitted receiving substantial quantities of methamphetamine from Barnett and Steinbrink.

Fowler admitted obtaining one “eight ball” of methamphetamine per week from Barnett and Steinbrink from the winter of 2007-08 through November of 2008, and two eight-balls of methamphetamine per week from November 2008 through November 2009.

There were also multiple text messages on Steinbrink’s phones from an individual identified in Steinbrink’s phone address book as “Amber Dad,” a person later identified as Amber McGhay, 28, Latham.

McGhay admitted the number listed as “Amber Dad” was her number, and admitted sending the drug-related text messages.

McGhay said she met Steinbrink in February or March of 2007 and began buying methamphetamine from Steinbrink. She met Barnett in October 2008.

Around that time, she transferred the white Dodge pickup truck that Barnett and Steinbrink were driving when they were arrested into her own name.

McGhay said she regularly purchased methamphetamine from Steinbrink until Steinbrink went on probation in 2009. Steinbrink would front the methamphetamine to McGhay for $350 per eight ball.

McGhay said she used some of the methamphetamine, and had three or four customers to whom she would sell the rest. McGhay said she would profit around $100 per eight ball.

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