Suspect in meth case gets 4 years

A Craig man arrested in a major methamphetamine sweep in December will serve four years in prison, a judge ruled Monday.

Jonathan D. Crook, 24, of Craig, pleaded guilty Monday to felony possession of meth in exchange for the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Of--fice throwing out meth distribution charges against him.

As part of the plea agreement, Chief Judge Michael O'Hara sentenced Crook to four years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Crook appeared in court via teleconference from Moffat County Jail. He is serving a one-year sentence for attempted criminal trespassing in the Huerfano Correctional Facility in Walsenburg. He is scheduled for release on the trespassing charge in June, according to the Department of Corrections.

Crook was one of 15 people charged with meth distribution and possession in a major sweep in December. Crook was one of three people arrested in the December meth sweep who were in the Moffat County Jail on separate charges at the time of their arrests.

Crook read a prepared statement during the hearing, asking Judge O'Hara to sentence him to two years in prison, rather than four.

"I was not a drug dealer," Crook said. "I was a drug addict."

Crook said he never profited from selling drugs and that the confidential informant who police say he sold drugs to approached him, not the other way around.

But O'Hara said he had no choice but to sentence Crook to four years because that was what the plea agreement stipulated.

"I can't exercise my discretion when there is a stipulated plea agreement," O'Hara said.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Stern told Crook that prosecutors understood that he was a drug addict and not a trafficker. But Stern declined to change the plea agreement to give Crook two years instead of four.

"The people are aware of the fact that addicts will frequently distribute as a way of supporting a habit," Stern said. "The bottom line is that the problem of meth in this community is substantial, it is one that is doing tremendous harm."

Under the terms of the agreement, Crook will begin serving his four-year sentence after his current sentence is complete.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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