Man Admits He Tried to Take Over 100 Pounds of Marijuana Through Albany County
A man accused of trying to drive through Wyoming with 100 pounds of marijuana told a judge Friday in Albany County District Court that he intended to take the drugs from California to Columbus, Ohio.
Michael Thomas Heater, 25, pleaded guilty on one count of possession of a controlled substance. In exchange, the state agreed to drop a second charge of possession with intent to deliver, but will make no recommendation as to sentencing.
Heater faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The guilty plea is conditional, meaning Heater could still appeal Judge Jeffrey Donnell's denial of Heater's motion to suppress evidence discovered after a K-9 alerted to the vehicle he was driving.
A Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper stopped Heater for driving four miles over the speed limit Feb. 22 west of Laramie on Interstate 80 near mile post 298. Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said in court Friday the trooper became suspicious of criminal activity after finding that Heater’s license was expired and briefly smelling marijuana.
Court documents say 26-year-old Nuvia Carrillo – the owner of the vehicle who was seated alongside Heater in the passenger seat – did not give the trooper permission to search the vehicle when asked.
“The trooper did go forward and the dog did alert,” Trent told the court.
According to the affidavit, the trooper found four compressed bundles of marijuana hidden in luggage and the spare tire compartment, as well as four cell phones and four debit cards. All told, the marijuana weighed about 112 pounds.
Carrillo pleaded not guilty in May and is set to stand trial in November on charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver.
Donnell asked Heater where he was going with the drugs. Heater said he planned to take them from California to Columbus, Ohio.
“So this was essentially a drug run,” Donnell said.
Defense attorney Jason Tangeman requested first-offender treatment for his client Friday in court. Donnell emphasized while Heater certainly has the right to ask for such treatment, Donnell rarely grants those requests.
Donnell will withhold adjudication pending sentencing. Heater remains free on bond.