Steamboat Springs A Routt County man charged with multiple felonies in connection with a Hilton Gulch marijuana operation last year was sentenced to 150 days in jail and four years of supervised probation Thursday morning in Routt County District Court.
Judge Shelley Hill refused to accept Kyle Lindahl's original plea agreement, which stipulated only 90 days in jail plus the probation term.
Lindahl was arrested in September in connection with a marijuana growth and distribution operation discovered south of Steamboat Springs. Lindahl, 27, pleaded guilty Dec. 10 to cultivation of marijuana, a Class 4 felony, and possession of 1 to 8 ounces of marijuana, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The original plea agreement, which also required Lindahl to pay $2,100 in fines and have his driver's license suspended for 90 days, was based on the District Attorney's Office review of similar past cases, Chief Deputy District Attorney Carl Stahl said.
In the most recent such case - where the suspect went to trial and was found guilty - a judge ultimately handed down an identical sentence to that proposed by the original plea offer, Stahl said.
Kris Hammond, Lindahl's Steamboat Springs attorney, argued that any perceived leniency resulting from a shorter jail sentence would be outweighed by future ramifications his client would face for having a felony drug conviction on his record. Lindahl likely will have to give up his business, along with future plans for higher education and getting his CPA license, Hammond said.
"I'm not sure 90 days in jail is enough," Judge Hill said. "This wasn't just growing some marijuana in a closet. This was a huge operation.
"Part of sentencing today is demonstrating to the community that this is unacceptable."
After a conference with his family, Lindahl agreed to serve five months on the misdemeanor possession charge, in addition to the probation term for the felony.
Lindahl originally had faced additional charges of possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or distribute, a Class 4 felony; possession of 8 or more ounces of marijuana, a Class 5 felony; and a petty offense charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Those charges were dropped as a part of the plea agreement.
The marijuana operation in question was discovered in the 21800 block of Routt County Road 41A, in the Hilton Gulch area south of Steamboat Springs, after a Routt County Sheriff's Office deputy received a tip from the property owner Sept. 12. In addition to a grow operation in three rooms above a two-car garage on the property, a search also turned up bags of marijuana ready to be sold and a loaded .22 caliber rifle.
Investigators found plants as tall as 3 feet growing at the facility, in addition to immature plants, drying strands of marijuana and dozens of discarded plants that already had been harvested.
Lindahl was arrested Sept. 13. He was released from Routt County Jail the next day on $20,000 bond.
Lindahl voluntarily entered Routt County Jail in December to begin serving his jail sentence, and he will receive credit for the 42 days he already has served.