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Oelwein man sentenced to 30 years for distribution of meth
Conspiring to assault a drug informant enhanced sentence
CEDAR RAPIDS — An Oelwein man who conspired with the convicted killer of Chris Bagley to assault a drug informant in the Linn County Jail was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison for distributing methamphetamine out of his home.
Justin Michael Buehler, 39, was convicted by a jury in June of two counts of distribution of meth.
According to trial evidence, Buehler distributed meth to an employee at this workplace. In January 2019, law enforcement coordinated with the employee to set up two controlled purchases of meth from Buehler’s home.
U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams enhanced Buehler’s sentencing because he obstructed justice by conspiring with a cellmate, Johnny Blahnik Church, formerly known as Drew Blahnik, to have one of the prosecution’s witnesses, Ethan Palmer, assaulted in an effort to prevent him from testifying against Buehler.
Blahnik Church, 35, of Marion, who is serving 57 years for fatally stabbing Bagley, 31, of Walker, in December 2018, was convicted in November of tampering with a witness and willful injury causing serious injury for the assault on Palmer.
According to a criminal complaint, Blahnik Church and another inmate, Gregory Sills, 49, of Oelwein, followed Palmer into the bathroom in their cell pod at the Linn County Jail on May 27, and began “striking” Palmer. They eventually dragged Palmer out into the main area of the cellblock and continued to attack him.
Palmer’s injuries included a broken nose, two broken orbital bones, a torn retina, chipped teeth and a broken knee, the complaint states.
Palmer did go forward and testify at Buehler’s federal trial on the meth charges. Palmer had been in the jail awaiting trial on drug and theft charges out of Black Hawk and Fayette counties.
Williams also enhanced Buehler’s sentencing because two witnesses testified that Buehler convinced them to come to his residence, provided them with drugs and sexually assaulted them multiple times.
Buehler also was ordered to serve six months of supervised release following his prison term.
This case was prosecuted by assistants U.S. attorney Jason Norwood and Patrick Reinert. The case was investigated by the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement.
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