2012-08-30 / Front Page

Convicted Wilkes drug dealers get long probation sentences

Neighborhood complaints about drug sales have resulted in a Wilkes County man’s conviction for selling drugs near housing authority neighborhoods.

Last week in Superior Court, Derrick Sturgis, 29, of Wilkes County, pleaded guilty to felony possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, felony violation of the illegal substances near housing projects law, and obstruction of an officer.

“We’d had complaints from the neighbors about suspected drug activity on Lincoln Circle,” Washington Police investigator Lt. Philiph Perkins said after the arrest in June 2011. “We investigated, got enough for a search warrant, and searched a property where Sturgis lived. We found a good amount of crack cocaine and marijuana, and caught Sturgis jumping out the window.”

Sturgis’ guilty plea to the possession of cocaine with intent charge resulted in a sentence of six years, with more than four months in confinement already served and the balance on intensive probation. The other two counts were punished with six years concurrent probation for violating the housing project law and six months concurrent probation for obstruction of an officer.

Another accused drug dealer, Tenorio R. Tate, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute more than a year after he was arrested in November 2010.

In the fall of 2010, when an in- vestigation by the Wilkes County Sheriff’s office indicated possible drug sales, deputies served a search warrant on Tate’s Boulder Drive home on November 19. “In the course of searching, deputies found a quantity of cocaine packaged for resale,” Sheriff Mark Moore said. A small quantity of marijuana was also found, along with some cash.

On the cocaine plea, Judge Roger W. Dunaway Jr. sentenced Tate to six years with 45 days in confinement and the rest on probation on the drug package, plus fines and community service. He was sentenced to 12 months probation for the marijuana possession, to be served concurrently, and more community service.

Derrick D. Barnett, 35, pleaded guilty to charges from August 2011. In a negotiated plea, the felony charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute was reduced to felony possession of cocaine, for which Judge Dunaway sentenced Barnett to 12 years with 90 days in confinement and the balance of the sentence on intensive probation. A second guilty plea, on a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge, drew a sentence of 12 months probation to run concurrently with the cocaine sentence.

In Superior Court drug cases, most of the sentences passed down by Judge Dunaway include mandatory community service, fines, fees, and often a requirement to submit to the “drug package,” which works with offenders on their drug problems and demands accountability by frequent drug testing.

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So felony theft gets you 15

So felony theft gets you 15 years with 5 in prison but felony selling drugs only gets you 90 days in prison. I see why we have a drug problem here in Wilkes County.