Prosecutors urge federal judge to reject Youngstown man’s fifth motion for bond

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Prosecutors say Montrell Gilbert is "an immediate danger to the community" because of a criminal record dating back to 1994

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Federal prosecutors are opposed to a defendant’s fifth request in a little over a year for bond.

Writing for the government in a response filed Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan said that despite request Montrell Gilbert, 40, of Miami Avenue, to be released on bond due to upcoming surgery later this month, he is “an immediate danger to the community” because of a criminal record dating back to 1994.

“Gilbert’s medical issues, for which Gilbert receives considerable care for by doctors while in custody, simply do not change the overwhelming tide of evidence that proves Gilbert’s danger to the community,” Brennan wrote.

Gilbert asked for bond and to reopen his detention hearing in a motion filed Wednesday, saying that he is having surgery May 28 and the recovery includes bedrest and physical therapy. Currently housed at the Northeast Ohio Correction Center on the far East Side, he asked Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. to allow him to be able to recover from home.

“The recovery is expected to be long and possibly painful,” his attorney, Rhonda Kotnik, wrote when seeking a bond hearing. “He will be unable to receive any prescription pain medications in the jail. Recovery in jail would be extremely painful and uncomfortable.”

Gilbert has been in federal detention since Feb. 7, 2020, the day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and fentany, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.

The charges stem from an Oct. 20. 2019, arrest after Youngstown police were called about 6:25 a.m. to an accident with injuries at Elm Street and Brookline Avenue. When they arrived, they found a car that had crashed into a fence, and the driver of the car, Gilbert, was behind the wheel and unconscious.

When officers checked the car, they reported finding a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol on the passenger seat. Police and paramedics could not wake Gilbert so they had to take him out of the car.

As the car was searched before it was towed, police found a large plastic bag with several smaller plastic bags inside, which was later found to contain fentanyl, heroin, carfentanil and cocaine.

Reports said Gilbert was revived with Narcan but had to be sedated because he was so combative.

The indictment in the case said Gilbert served a federal prison sentence for a 2014 guilty plea to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Court records show he received a sentence of 51 months.

Gilbert was convicted of a gun offense in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in 2001 and also was guilty of possession of drugs in 2009, both offenses that bar him from having a firearm.

Since he has been in federal custody, Gilbert has asked for bond hearings on April 1, 2020; Nov. 18, 2020; March 22; and April 12.

Additionally, he also asked for new counsel, intending to fire Kotnik, but a separate motion filed Wednesday at the same time he filed for a bond hearing said that he and Kotnik have reconciled any past differences and she will remain his attorney.

Kotnik also said in her bond motion that her client’s status is further complicated because after this month, federal inmates will no longer be housed at the NEOCC. They will either be sent to jails in Mahoning County or Geauga County.

“NEOCC has already failed to provide [Gilbert] the standard care required for this type of injury,” Kotnik wrote. “If the next facility cannot accomodate his lengthy recovery, Mr. Gilbert will suffer needlessly and he won’t heal from the surgery.”

Brennan wrote that because that Gilbert’s motion should also be denied because “the motion only relies on Gilbert’s preference to recover from surgery at home. Because this is not appropriate grounds for reopening the detention hearing, this court should deny the motion.”

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