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Guilty plea in drug distribution case

A 48-year-old man from Leesberg, Virginia, pled guilty to federal charges involving the distribution of controlled substances. Prosecutors had accused him of the sale of oxycodone over a number of years to current and recent high school students. The sales were said to have taken place in Loudon County and to have resulted in the death of a 20-year-old man from a drug overdose.

Charges related to the death were dropped as part of a plea deal in which the defendant confessed to unrelated drug sales charges. The dropped charge carried with it a minimum 20 year prison sentence, and, in this case, would actually have resulted in a minimum life sentence because of convictions in previous drug cases. Under the deal, a 20 year sentence is the maximum sentence the defendant could receive and no mandatory minimum sentence applies at all.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys often are able to negotiate such deals for clients to minimize sentences in cases where conviction is likely or in which the risk of a very harsh sentence, such as life imprisonment, is present. In this case, the defense attorney said, the defendant had not sold drugs to the man who overdosed on them, but rather to someone else who provided them to the decedent.

The defendant was employed as a driver for a limousine business, and admitted to distributing drugs from his car and home. The drug oxycodone is a prescription painkiller and can be addictive if abused. The defendant himself evidently became addicted to the medication after it was prescribed for him. Purchasing more of the drug for himself was asserted to have been the motive for his subsequent drug sales.

Source: The Washington Post, "Man involved in Va. drug network pleads to conspiracy, but not to user's overdose death" Matt Zapotosky, Sep. 11, 2013

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