Steamboat Springs cocaine dealer to serve at least 4 years in prison

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— Rather than taking his chances at trial, a former Steamboat Springs resident on Wednesday pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine and will serve a minimum of four years in prison.

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Routt County Sheriff's Office/courtesy

Trevor R. Rice

Trevor R. Rice, 28, was arrested in March after police said he sold 3 ounces of cocaine to a person working with the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force. The investigation began after a confidential source had a December meeting with Rice. A controlled buy took place in January using a post office box at the downtown post office.

The Routt County District Attorney’s Office charged Rice with three Class 3 felonies, and he was scheduled to go to trial Oct. 28.

Rice’s attorney, Larry Combs, said he had been in negotiations with former Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle about a plea deal that would have involved Rice avoiding prison and instead serving probation. Combs said District Attorney Brett Barkey never signed off on the plea deal, and the discussions about Rice serving only probation stopped when Prindle unexpectedly left the District Attorney’s Office on Oct. 1.

“I met with Mr. Barkey, and he said, ‘Drug dealers go to prison, period,’” Combs said.

Combs said the Rice case is an example of a tougher attitude coming from the District Attorney’s Office.

“We’re in a different ball game now,” Combs said. “After 40 years (of being an attorney) I’ve been in this ball game before.”

Last week, Barkey said going forward, defense attorneys generally would not be as satisfied with plea deals as they have been in the past.

Barkey issued a news release after Rice’s guilty plea.

“We wanted to send a strong message that when you distribute dangerous drugs in this community, the consequences are severe,” Barkey said. “The facts of the case warrant a prison sentence, and that is what Mr. Rice will receive.”

If a jury would have found Rice guilty of all three charges, Combs said Rice would have faced a mandatory 12 years in prison.

Combs said he was disappointed Rice was not offered a plea deal calling for probation. Rice has no prior felonies, and he is an honor student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Combs said.

“You’ve got to look at the individual not the charges,” Combs said. “I think he would have been successful at probation.”

Rice was visibly upset as Judge Shelley Hill scheduled sentencing for 1 p.m. Jan. 17.

“This is just a disaster for him,” Combs said.

Two other cases are pending related to ACET’s investigation of Rice.

Margie “Maggie” A. Levin, 27, was booked into Routt County Jail on April 5 on suspicion of conspiring to sell cocaine. ACET officials think Rice was Levin’s supplier, according to Levin’s arrest warrant. She also appeared in court Wednesday by telephone, and it was disclosed that she has been offered a plea deal from the District Attorney’s Office that calls for prison time.

Levin next is due to appear in court at 1 p.m. Nov. 21. She has been charged with conspiring to sell cocaine, a Class 3 felony, and possession of cocaine, a Class 4 felony.

The third person charged was Levin’s boyfriend, Conor Barrett. He was arrested March 8. Barrett was charged with a single count of unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, sale or possession of a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Class 3 felony. Barrett is due back in court at 1 p.m. Oct. 23.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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Comments

PJ Howe 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I really hope that people like Mr. Barkley and Ms. Hill will stop trying to save us from ourselves. Mr. Rice will now be a burden on society, most likely, for the rest of his life. How many millions will that cost. It's at least $200k while he is prison. STOP sending non violent drug affenders to prison, we, I, can't afford it anymore.

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jerry carlton 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I paid for 1/3 of my college education and my parents paid for 2/3. None of us had to sell cocaine to fund it. He should have gotten 12 years instead of 4.

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rhys jones 11 months, 2 weeks ago

This kid didn't know what he was doing. Fell for the lure of easy money. No priors, honor student -- he obviously knew not the world in which he dealt. He's learning fast.

Let the punishment fit the crime. There was no theft or harm of any kind, truly a victimless crime. He could've killed somebody or stolen thousands of dollars, and gotten less time.

Four years is a LONG TIME. Our fearless prosecutors, in their zeal, just cost another young man his life, and the taxpayers many thousands of dollars. He is ever-tainted, never to fully recover.

Sort of a waste all around, is what I'm thinking. The Conspiracy Theorist in me tells me it's Da Man, branding another one for exclusion from The Promised Land.

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Bob Smith 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"...prosecutors, in their zeal, just cost another young man his life, and the taxpayers many (hundreds of) thousands of dollars..." - amen. what a complete and utter waste of money. druggies will do drugs, no matter what!! they get stuff in prison! listen wether you are an idealistic bible thumping self righteous type, or a disillusioned selfish pro-legalization-of-anything type - can't we all agree that nothing will ever stop people from consuming drugs (alcohol included)? we cannot and should not try and control this behavior. -- regulate it to some degree and let natural selection go to work! but seriously, why do people care what an other adult ingests? did jesus say "tho shalt not sniff cocaine?" ... "but it is okay that tho shalt consume scotch whiskey"...I'm no biblical scholar but I missed that one. wtf...where did these laws come from? this honor's student's life it's ruined. over. he's an idiot but in the name of what do we do this? does it help you that this guy gets to rot in prison for years (and btw come out FAR more likely to commit a violent crime)? it doesn't help me. it doesn't help anyo.. oh wait a minute. it helps a couple of people. like the officers in charge of the arrest, and of course the prosecutor. career advancement. money. I see. if we started to become more rational about drug use a lot of law enforcement folks would be looking for work. we're talking billions of dollars annually/nationally, if you look at the whole system. wow, I wonder if this industry spends any money on lobbying folks in Washington....hmm. prison "industry". just good for business to have tough laws. yikes. what comes to mind is the definition of insanity, something about doing the same thing and expecting different results. why in the world are we wasting so much money and ruining so many lives over a public health issue, which - btw - we are making FAR worse by criminalizing!! once you accept that alcohol and drugs cannot be "stamped out", that there is simply no way possible to eradicate the consumption of these substances, it's a start. let's be realistic and start working towards reducing the harm that drugs do to society. putting an honors student in prison for 4 years does nothing helpful. nothing.

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jerry carlton 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Bob Get an amendment going to the state constitution to legalize cocaine. Might as well add heroin, meth, opium, bath salts, PCP, peyote, LSD, and anything I have forgotten. It would probably pass. Think of the tourist dollars from all over the world. Doperboat! Where you can get high and you are already over a mile high!

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