Jason M. Zwick pleaded no contest Tuesday morning to one count of raping a boy younger than 13 years old just minutes before his trial was to begin in Miami County Common Pleas Court.
Wearing a dark suit, Zwick said only “no contest” when asked for his plea by Judge Christopher Gee.
Zwick, 30, of Beavercreek, was found guilty by Gee and sentenced to 10 years to life, ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and is to be classified as a Tier III sex offender.
Miami County First Assistant Prosecutor Anthony Kendell said the no contest plea likely was made so that Zwick and attorney Joe Stadnicar can immediately appeal the decision. Stadnicar was not immediately available to comment and did not return multiple messages seeking comment.
“I’m pleased that we got the life sentence, the maximum sentence from our perspective,” Kendell said. “This is a guy that’s out shopping for minors to have sex with. We’re talking 8-, 9-, 10-years-old.”
Kendell said the agreement to a plea on one count was appropriate because the three counts of felony rape would have been combined into one for purposes of sentencing because it stemmed from one incident.
“I think it’s a just result,” Kendell said. “Based upon our research that we did, it was our conclusion that the three charges would merge and that the maximum sentence would be 10 years to life regardless. So we feel like we didn’t give anything away here.”
Kendell said a no contest plea — first discussed by attorneys Monday night — means Zwick admits to the facts in the indictment but that result allows for an appeal, whereas a guilty plea does not.
The child victim did not have to testify and would not be asked to testify during any appeals process.
As for the case that also involved the boy’s adoptive father — 40-year-old Kenneth H. Brandt, who pleaded guilty to six counts of rape and likely will spend the rest of his life in jail — Kendell said this one stands out: “I’ve been doing this for … 20 years this year and this is the most despicable thing that I’ve ever had to deal with and I’ve had to deal with a lot of ugly cases.”
A Troy police report about the incidents describe an interview the boy gave to police in which he referred to anatomically correct photos of nude males and described who did what between himself and Zwick.
Zwick was accused of three counts of rape against the child after Zwick allegedly answered Brandt’s Craigslist ad for taboo sex. The indictment estimates the activity took place between Jan. 1, 2012 and Feb. 24, 2012. The case was brought forward after an Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigation resulted in charges against Brandt, Zwick and Dayton’s Patrick Rieder.
Brandt’s Montgomery County case with seven rape-related charges also ended in a plea agreement. His sentencing is set for Feb. 26. Rieder faces four counts of rape of a child younger than 13 and 75 more counts mostly involving illegal use of and pandering obscenity involving a minor. Rieder’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 19.
After Tuesday’s plea, Judge Gee gathered prospective jurors in the courtroom to inform them there would be no trial.