By T.J. Pyette
Wiping tears from his eyes, Jay Flynn told state District Judge E. Wayne Phillips that he is now "on the straight and narrow," and asked for leniency during a sentencing hearing Tuesday in state District Court.
Phillips sentenced Flynn to a three-year deferred sentence, combined fees and fines of $1,675, and 15 days at a pre-release center, where Flynn is to pay all expenses of his incarceration. In addition, Phillips ordered Flynn to pay $5,000 to the local Boys & Girls Club to help with drug prevention efforts for area youth.
Flynn pleaded no contest in October to a felony charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer. By pleading no contest, Flynn did not admit to the crimes, but he acknowledged that there was enough evidence to convict him.
The charges stemmed from an incident at Flynn's home in Gildford in February of 2001 when he possessed nearly a gram of methamphetamine, according to court documents.
Additional misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia were dropped as part of a plea agreement with the Hill County Attorney's Office.
Initial police reports said Flynn and a woman, Sage Autumn Alexander of Las Vegas, were in possession of the methamphetamine and 47 grams of marijuana, as well as several marijuana pipes and paraphernalia and 693 prescription Xanax pills. Xanax is an antidepressant.
A criminal complaint said Hill County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Flynn's home after Alexander called 9-1-1 and said she was holding a gun to her head in the early morning hours of Feb. 21, 2001. Deputies who responded were told by Alexander that the drugs were in the residence, and they subsequently obtained a search warrant.
The following day, on Feb. 22, 2001, Flynn called a Tri-agency Task Force agent assigned to the case and lied to the agent about his relationship with Alexander and the length of time she had been at his home, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, Flynn had introduced Alexander as his girlfriend when the two went to a Havre business office about a week before the incident. The methamphetamine had been shipped from Las Vegas to Alexander at the business office, where Flynn then worked.
In the phone call to the drug task force, Flynn told the agent that he was embarrassed about Alexander being at his home and that he did not invite her there. He said she had shown up a day and a half before the incident at his home occurred, the complaint said.
The complaint said Flynn was charged with obstructing a peace officer as a result of the phone call because it appeared "the call was intended to impair (the agent's) investigation as he sought to determine the connection between Flynn and Alexander and the dangerous drugs shipped to her at his office."
The plea agreement recommended Flynn serve a two-year deferred sentence plus pay a $1,000 fine for the drug possession charge. Additionally, the agreement called for a one-year deferred sentence, to be served concurrently, and a $300 fine for the obstructing charge.
A presentence investigation by state Probation and Parole officer Ed Schmidt recommended the court follow the sentencing guidelines in the agreement.
Flynn's attorney, Kenneth W. Olson, addressed the court and asked that Flynn be given an 18-month deferred sentence, the same sentence handed down to co-defendant Alexander in December.
Olson said Flynn has taken some very positive steps since the incident, and said he thinks Flynn "has learned from his seriously flawed behavior and is determined not to come this way again."
Olson said Flynn has completed inpatient treatment for chemical dependency, and has maintained his sobriety for more than a year with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. Olson also said Flynn has developed a positive and stabilizing relationship with a woman in Houston, Texas, and has accepted religion back into his life.
"(Flynn) was a very difficult person for me to deal with when I first met him," Olson said. "I've watched him evolve and maintain sobriety in the past months and he is truly, in my view, a different person than when he first came into my office."
Olson implored the judge to order the deferred sentence because if the sentence was not deferred, Flynn, a fourth-generation farmer, would not be eligible for government farm subsidies for at least five years.
A deferred sentence means that if Flynn remains law-abiding and follows other conditions for three years, the convictions will be removed from his record.
Flynn apologized for embarassing his friends and family and said he has made many changes in his life, beginning with completing chemical dependency treatment.
"Religion, especially in correlation with AA, has changed my life, and my new relationship has given me a fresh outlook," Flynn said.
He wept as he told the judge that if he were no longer able to receive government farm subsidies, he would be forced to consider selling the family farm.
Phillips thanked Olson and Flynn for their comments and said they "changed the direction of this court."
"This court will afford you ultimate consideration in sentencing because of your (farming) occupation and your contrition," Phillips said before he announced Flynn's sentence.