Man sentenced to 4 months in pot case

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One of three men arrested on charges of possessing almost three pounds of marijuana was sentenced Friday to four months in Routt County Jail, but he can prevent a felony from being on his record.

"You have a good opportunity here to avoid a felony conviction," District Court Judge Michael O'Hara told Lucas Merle English after reading his sentence.

English, 24, of Boulder, was scheduled to begin his jail time Friday night and also will pay about $5,300 in costs and fines.

English was the only one of the three men involved charged with possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.

All three were riding in a vehicle in which a Colorado State Patrol trooper found drugs and $12,500 in cash during a routine traffic stop Dec. 22. They were arrested on suspicion of possessing 8 ounces or more of marijuana and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.

English pleaded guilty in May to possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, a Class 4 felony, and possession of between 1 and 8 ounces of marijuana, a misdemeanor.

The intent to distribute charge could have resulted in two to six years in jail, and up to a $500,000 fine. The misdemeanor charge could have resulted in six to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

The sentence of four months in jail was for English's misdemeanor charge.

For the felony charge, English received a deferred sentence, meaning that if he successfully completes four years of supervised probation and complies with other conditions, the felony charge will be dismissed, and he will not be sentenced for it.

The conditions include doing 48 hours of public service, and his probation terms include consuming no alcohol or illegal drugs.

"It avoids a felony conviction, and that's always a good thing," said Kristopher Hammond, English's attorney, after the sentencing hearing.

Jason Saint Onge Odea, 24, of Steamboat Springs, was driving the car, and has been charged with driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and weaving.

Adam Daniel Gelbart, 24, of Steamboat Springs, was a passenger in the car. The case against him was dismissed because his fingerprints were not found on any of the evidence, according to court documents.

Odea was driving Dec. 22 when he allegedly cut off Trooper Ryan Parker. When pulled over, Odea showed signs of being intoxicated and failed voluntary roadside maneuvers, Parker noted in his report.

Odea consented to a search of his truck, and Parker found three large bags of marijuana weighing 2.87 pounds and $12,500 in $5 to $100 bills in a backpack. When Parker interviewed the three men, all said they did not own the marijuana or the money or know where it came from, the trooper's report indicates.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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