Illegal lane change leads to four-pound pot bust and prison timeALEXANDRIA — A 25-year-old Illinois man who was caught with four pounds of marijuana in his car last summer near Alexandria has been sentenced to three years in prison.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
ALEXANDRIA — A 25-year-old Illinois man who was caught with four pounds of marijuana in his car last summer near Alexandria has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Patrick Maisenbacher, of Springfield, Ill., was arrested Aug. 27 when a Highway Patrol trooper found four large bags of marijuana inside a suitcase in the trunk of his car during a traffic stop on Interstate 90 near mile marker 341, about three miles west of Alexandria.
Maisenbacher recently pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute 1 pound or more of marijuana, a felony with a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. He was sentenced Wednesday at the Hanson County Courthouse in Alexandria.
Maisenbacher’s attorney, Rebecca Millan, of the Mitchell law firm Morgan Theeler, requested he receive a suspended imposition of sentence, with jail time and probation.
A suspended imposition of sentence gives offenders the opportunity to keep a clear record if they follow all terms of probation.
“He’s not an individual that prison is the answer for,” Millan said, addressing Judge Tim Bjorkman.
Millan argued that Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s criminal justice initiative, which was recently signed into law but has not yet gone into effect, is intended to keep non-violent offenders like Maisenbacher out of the state’s prison.
Hanson County Deputy State’s Attorney Doug Papendick recommended Maisenbacher receive five years in prison.
“He really hasn’t shown much to warrant probation,” Papendick said.
Answering questions from Judge Bjorkman, Maisenbacher said he paid $8,000 for the marijuana, and it was the first time he had bought such a large quantity and intended to sell it.
“I know what I did was wrong,” Maisenbacher said. “I’m trying to change and I would like a chance to change.”
Bjorkman said he cannot be lenient with anyone who buys drugs with the intent to sell them.
“When you elected to buy drugs to distribute to other people,” Bjorkman said, “even though you may not have been thinking about it, that drug could wind up in the hands of people who are addicted for life.”
“I consider someone who seeks to profit from the illegal drug trade to be a predator on other people,” the judge added.
Maisenbacher was fined $5,000 plus the three-year prison term. The earliest he could be eligible for parole is January 2014, Bjorkman said.
Maisenbacher was immediately turned over to the Hanson County Sheriff’s Office and, following an unrelated hearing, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
According to court documents, the traffic stop that led to Maisenbacher’s arrest was made because he failed to signal when changing lanes to pass another vehicle. When Maisenbacher handed the Highway Patrol trooper his license, registration and proof of insurance, the trooper noticed “his hand was shaking.”
After further questioning, Maisenbacher told the trooper he had “a little marijuana.” In addition to the four large bags of marijuana found in the trunk, a pipe and a jar containing less than one-quarter ounce of marijuana was found on the floor in the rear of the vehicle and cocaine residue was also detected, court documents say.