Steamboat Springs A 39-year-old Steamboat Springs man was sentenced to eight years in prison Friday for selling methamphetamine.
Routt County District Court Judge Michael O'Hara told Thomas Edward Payne he thought Payne should spend more time in prison, but he accepted the plea agreement Payne reached with the District Attorney's Office.
Payne pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing methamphetamine and a lesser charge of possessing less than 1 gram of the drug in October. In exchange for the plea, Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James agreed to dismiss the other charges Payne was facing, which included violating his bail bond conditions, possessing a weapon, false reporting and charges in two 2006 driving under the influence cases.
In addition to the prison sentence, O'Hara ordered Payne to forfeit any money he had on him when he was arrested in February and serve a mandatory five-year parole. Payne was given 169 days of credit for time he has spent in the Routt County Jail.
During his sentencing Friday, Payne apologized to the community for his behavior.
"I just wanted to apologize to the community and to mother for my actions. That's all," he said.
Payne was arrested in February 2006 after he called Steamboat Springs police officers to report being robbed at gunpoint of $700 by five people from Craig who had come to his Steamboat Springs mobile home to purchase methamphetamine.
After stopping the five Craig residents in Hayden, police found that the alleged robbers had not stolen $700 from Payne, but had stolen 10 grams of meth from his home after Payne reportedly refused to accept a gun in exchange for the drugs.
"This agreement sends the strongest message to the community that drug dealing, especially methamphetamine, will not be tolerated by the District Attorney's Office," St. James said, "and that we will pursue these cases with great vigor."