Man pleads guilty to meth possession

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— A Steamboat Springs man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Routt County District Court to possessing more than an ounce of methamphetamine.

Alberto Osuna Valdez, 44, had been charged with a Class 3 felony but pleaded to a Class 4 felony in an agreement with prosecutors. The plea agreement changed the charge from possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute to simple possession.

Valdez was arrested Aug. 24 after Steamboat Springs police officers pulled over his car for not having license plates and having an obstructed windshield, police Capt. Joel Rae said.

Valdez also was driving without a license and did not have proof of insurance for the vehicle, police said.

During a routine search of Valdez's car, officers found three plastic bags of methamphetamine. Two of the bags weighed 29.3 grams each and one bag weighed 29.2 grams for a total of about 3 ounces.

District Judge Paul McLim--ans said Valdez faced as many as six years in prison, a mandatory three-year parole when he is sentenced and an order to pay a $500,000 fine and court costs. McLimans also told Valdez he could be deported to Mexico as a consequence of the charges.

Valdez told McLimans he understood the ramifications of pleading guilty.

Valdez's Steamboat Springs attorney, Larry Combs, told McLimans that Valdez was suffering back pains he sustained in a work-related injury and said his client needed surgery before going to prison.

Combs asked for about "60 days of indulgence" in setting a date for Valdez to be sentenced so he could have more time to deal with Valdez's medical condition.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James did not object to the delayed sentencing.

Valdez will be sentenced at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 24, 2006.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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