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Man pleads guilty to lesser drug charge following deadlock

Posted: October 21, 2011 - 12:04am

A Juneau man accused of selling heroin pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in court Thursday after a jury deadlocked on the issue two months ago.

Jose Perez, 36, changed his plea in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Philip Pallenberg to guilty of one count of fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, a class ‘C’ felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $50,000.

He was originally charged with one count of second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, a class ‘A’ felony, that carries up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 maximum fine.

Pallenberg ordered a pre-sentencing report and told Perez he will be sentenced on Nov. 29, according to court documents.

The case could have been retried after a trial jury in August was hung on the class ‘A’ felony charge. That same jury found him guilty of fourth-degree assault and one count of interference with official proceedings. The interference charge stemmed from Perez’ alleged jailhouse assault on a witness against him. Perez faces one to three years in prison on interfering and up to a year on the assault charge.

Perez was charged Jan. 5 with allegedly possessing heroin with intent to distribute, according to court documents. Documents show that on Jan. 4, a Juneau Police Department informant bought heroin off another dealer. That dealer later told police he bought the drugs from Perez in a Switzer Village trailer park. After obtaining a search warrant for Perez and the trailer, JPD officers found a tin that contained individually wrapped packages of heroin. Both the dealer, who testified against Perez, and Perez were arrested and taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center. Perez attacked the dealer and punched him at least 31 times, surveillance video shows.

Court documents indicate that Perez, a Dominican Republic national, was informed by his lawyer that his plea he entered Thursday could potentially affect his immigration status.

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