Steamboat man gets 8 years for cocaine conviction
January 21, 2014
Steamboat Springs — A Steamboat Springs resident whom a jury found guilty of distributing cocaine has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Anthony Tate, 58, tried to mail more than 4 ounces of cocaine to Pennsylvania via FedEx from the Steamboat PostNet in March. When police searched his home, they found about another 5 ounces of cocaine.
With such large amounts of cocaine, the Routt County District Attorney's office argued Tate was a drug dealer.
"Mr. Tate is a drug dealer," Deputy District Attorney Conor Hagerty said. "Drug dealers need to go to prison."
At the sentencing hearing, the district attorney's depiction of Tate as a drug dealer was disputed by his attorney, Larry Combs.
Combs argued that Tate was a wealthy cocaine addict who bought in bulk to feed his habit at a cheaper price.
"It was called the Costco case," Combs said.
Combs said Tate was shipping the cocaine to himself, and the jury agreed shipping the drug technically fit the definition of distribution.
"He may be the only person that goes to prison for distribution and never has sold a gram of cocaine in his life," Combs said Tuesday.
Tate had a prior conviction from 2007 related to mailing cocaine.
"The point I have tried to make in all our illegal distribution cases is that those who would profit by selling these poisons in our community ought to face severe consequences," Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey wrote in an email. "With a prior drug conviction, Mr. Tate's prison sentence is entirely appropriate."
Judge Shelley Hill sentenced Tate to the minimum sentence mandated under federal rules.
Combs has issues with the rules.
They are a relic of the Ronald Reagan presidency and the war on drugs intended to put away big-time drug dealers, he said. He said the rules were not intended for people like Tate.
"They missed the mark," Combs said.
The District Attorney's office also was asking that Tate be fined $500,000.
"Mr. Tate appears to be wealthy," Hagerty said. "He has resources. What we fear is Mr. Tate is going to come out of prison and do this again. By imposing a fine so steep, we will take away his ability to do this."
Hill set the fine at $20,000. Tate also must pay a $4,500 drug offender surcharge.