A 48-year-old Oklahoma man has been sentenced to six months of imprisonment to be followed by six months of home detention for acquiring illegal narcotics through deception and tampering/destroying evidence. The man will be placed on supervised release for two years after he is released from federal custody and completes his home detention. Prosecutors say that the man took advantage of his position as a Mayes County Sheriff’s Office narcotics supervisor to obtain methamphetamine to support his drug habit. Reports of the sentence were published on August 3.
The sentence was part of a plea agreement the man entered into with federal prosecutors in April. The man’s activities came to light in 2018 when authorities began to investigate missing Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation evidence. When the man’s home was searched, agents allegedly discovered methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and evidence submittal envelopes.
Prosecutors believe the man took the envelopes containing drugs before they could be booked in. He also allegedly altered evidence and took drugs from narcotics suspects. The U.S. attorney prosecuting the case said that prison time was warranted because the man had violated the trust police rely on to enforce the law. However, he also conceded that the man’s actions had been driven by addiction and not greed.
The penalties for even minor federal drug crimes can be severe, but this case shows that U.S. attorneys may be willing to reduce them in return for a guilty plea. A criminal defense attorney could recommend that a client consider entering into a plea agreement if the evidence against them is strong. However, they could advocate fiercely on their behalf in court if police appear to have infringed on rights protected by the U.S. Constitution or the prosecutor’s case relies on unreliable evidence such as the testimony of a co-conspirator.