Bond re-set for defendant cooperating with prosecutors

LIMA — A Lima woman facing more than four dozen felony charges related to the trafficking of heroin and fentanyl within the city of Lima, including some that carry the designation as a major drug offender, had her bond re-instated during a hearing Friday morning in Allen County Common Pleas Court.

Nicoya Darby, 35, appeared before Judge Terri Kohlrieser after she was taken into custody for violating the terms of her bond by being out after an established curfew.

The violation, which Kohlrieser said was partially a case of “really bad timing,” occurred around the same time a co-defendant in the case — Eric Upthegrove — cut off his ankle monitor and fled. He continues to evade law enforcement. Darby was described by investigators as Upthegrove’s girlfriend.

Darby told the judge on Friday that she misunderstood a message from her attorney that led her to believe her curfew had been lifted when she left her home to celebrate her sister’s birthday.

“I acknowledge I was out past curfew,” Darby said.

Kohlrieser said she received a message from the company that monitors electronic ankle bracelets that the woman was outside her home past curfew. The timing of the violation, being close to the time Upthegrove vanished, led to Darby’s arrest and incarceration.

During Friday’s hearing Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Mariah Cunningham said Darby has been cooperating with prosecutors in cases against Upthegrove and co-defendant Ronald Hesseling. Cunningham did not object when Kohlrieser re-set Darby’s bond at $50,000 cash or surety.

“I feel a significant bond is necessary because the charges you are facing give you every excuse in the world to run,” the judge said.

Darby, Upthegrove and Hessling each face numerous charges related to a series of raids executed in September 2021 by the West Central Ohio Crime Task Force and the FBI’s North West Ohio Safe Streets Task Force which resulted in the seizure of narcotics, weapons, currency and drug paraphernalia.

According to the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, a narcotics-related search warrant was executed at a residence at 765 S. Broadway Ave., Lima, which resulted in the arrest of Hesseling. Investigators then executed a warrant at 929 S. Atlantic Ave. and arrested Upthegrove and Darby.

Investigators reported that during the search of both residences an automatic pill press, a mechanical pill press, thousands of pressed fentanyl pills weighing approximately 11 kilograms, 2.2 kilograms of bricked suspected fentanyl powder, suspected marijuana, suspected THC products, paraphernalia and six guns were discovered, along with $9,988 in U.S. currency and two vehicles.