A Juneau man was sentenced Monday to serve 27 months with 24 months suspended for a felony drug charge.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez imposed the sentence for James R. Hanson, 42, after accepting a plea deal reached with prosecutors. The deal requires Hanson to be on probation for three years.
Hanson was originally charged in August with one count of second-degree drug misconduct for allegedly possessing heroin with intent to deliver.
The plea agreement reduced that charge to fourth-degree drug misconduct, a class ‘C’ felony that carries a presumptive range of zero to two years in prison for first time felony offenders. Hanson changed his plea in November.
Prosecutors said a drug courier was stopped at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle, Wash., on the way to Juneau in early August, and informed law enforcement that he had been instructed to deliver one ounce of tar heroin to Hanson, according to an affidavit.
Law enforcement conducted a controlled delivery by replacing the heroin with sham narcotics and placing a representative sample of the heroin into a package, and having the courier-turned-police informant deliver it to Hanson in a Juneau hotel room. The affidavit states Hanson used the heroin, discovered it was fake and told the informant that he couldn’t make any money off it. Hanson was arrested shortly thereafter.
Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp told the judge that Hanson has been known locally by the police drug unit for a number of years, but he doesn’t have a felony conviction in Alaska.
Kemp added that Hanson has a prior felony out of Washington state, but it is outside the time frame to make Hanson a presumptive offender, which would allow more jail time.
Kemp noted it would not have been easy to prove at trial that Hanson intended to distribute the drugs.
Hanson’s attorney, Natasha Norris with the Office of Public Advocacy, said the state would have had a difficult time even proving the ‘possession’ element.
Norris said police did not place the representative sample of heroin in the package, like they said they did in the affidavit, which means Hanson was never actually in possession of heroin, only the sham narcotics.
Still, both attorneys said they thought the plea deal was a good resolution that adequately addressed what transpired in the case, and they urged the judge to accept it. The deal also required Hanson to admit to a sentencing aggravator.
Hanson has already served his three months in jail while the case was pending. He was additionally facing another drug charge in a separate case involving oxycodone pills, but those charges were dismissed, Norris said.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.