A Juneau man was sentenced to five years in prison with three and a half years suspended for possessing 75 grams of powder heroin and 100 tablets of oxycodone hydrochloride tablets called Roxicodone, a painkiller.
That’s one and a half years to serve for 34-year-old Jesse N. Rodriguez, who was also required to be on probation for three years after his release. Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg imposed the sentence Wednesday.
Prosecutors said law enforcement conducted a controlled delivery of a package containing the drugs from down south to Rodriguez in July.
He was subsequently indicted by a grand jury on three felony counts alleging possession with the intent to deliver, and he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge last month.
On Thursday, Rodriguez’s aunt, Nancy Lemon, spoke on his behalf before the judge, saying her family has struggled with addiction in the past, but she believes her nephew can beat addiction with substance abuse treatment.
“He’s young enough and bright enough to make a change, and I know ... he will,” Lemon said.
Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams said Lemon’s comments illustrated why she believes the plea deal in place is an appropriate resolution. The composite sentence is large enough to address deterrence and community condemnation, but he’s also being given the chance to seek rehabilitation and treatment by having a lengthy probation period, Williams said.
Despite the large quantity of drugs involved, Rodriguez’s attorney Natasha Norris told the judge that her client wasn’t much of a drug dealer — he himself used the drugs, and he only provided drugs to his friends to help them use.
Norris said that’s corroborated by the fact that his name had never “popped up” on the police’s radar as someone who used or sold drugs, even this past summer when a dozen or so people were indicted for dealing heroin and meth.
“His name was just not on the radar at all,” she said.
Norris said that while her client did expect to have that package mailed to him, he did not expect that large amount of heroin, and he did not expect the Roxicodone at all. When Pallenberg expressed surprise about that statement — “I doubt that it was a Christmas present,” he said — Norris agreed that it was “weird” but that it’s consistent with the facts surrounding the case.
“He’s not a big importer of drugs into Juneau,” Norris said.
Rodriguez has several prior misdemeanor convictions from when he was younger, but his last conviction was in 2004 and that he’s stayed out of trouble since then, Norris added. His father died about a year and half ago, and that’s likely what spurred the drug use, Norris said.
Rodriguez told the judge that he’s already served seven months of his sentence in jail and that it’s been a “big wake-up call.”
“I miss my kids,” he said. “I just want to get past this and move on now that I’m clean.”
The judge said he originally had reservations about the plea agreement when considering the large amount of quantity of drugs involved. But he said he was encouraged to see that even though Rodriguez was in “a flurry of trouble” when he was younger, he was able to keep out of trouble until this case.
“It’s hopeful that you can get back to that place again,” Pallenberg said.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.