DA drops coke sales charge
A Truckee man accused of selling cocaine pleaded no contest to two charges Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court, one for possession of a controlled substance, and the other for driving under the influence of alcohol.
But the prosecution dropped a felony charge of possession of cocaine for sale against Walter “Lamont” Wright, 34, saying the amount of cocaine seized in a search of his home was insufficient to prove he was dealing.
Police stopped Wright, 34, on Nov. 1 for speeding on Interstate 80, and arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence.
According to a Truckee Police Department release, the officer found cocaine and sealable baggies during a search of Wright, and obtained a warrant to search his residence the following morning. The search turned up “remnants” of cocaine, a scale and more baggies.
Truckee Police indicated they had been investigating Wright for possible cocaine sales for two months, but described the traffic stop and arrest as a coincidence.
Deputy District Attorney William Cornell said in a phone interview Tuesday he had reduced the possession-for-sale charge to straight possession.
“It was a small quantity of cocaine, borderline as to if it was for personal use or not,” Cornell said.
Wright, meanwhile, said the experience has left him questioning the police department’s actions, particularly public statements after his arrest that he worked at the Pastime Club as a bartender and that he had allegedly sold cocaine at the bar.
“It was an investigation gone bad,” Wright said in a phone interview after his court appearance Tuesday. “It made the Pastime look bad. The police didn’t even have their facts right.
“I just want it all to be cleaned up,” he said.
In a sworn affidavit Truckee police used to apply for a search warrant of Wright’s residence, Detective Andrew Holbrook mentioned a two-month surveillance of Wright at his Moraine Road residence and around Truckee. However, in the affidavit, Holbrook did not describe witnessing drug transactions at either Wright’s residence or at the Pastime Club.
In hindsight, Wright said he recalls strangers approaching him in bars asking to purchase cocaine. He now chalks that up to the police investigation.
“They’d send people up to me to buy stuff,” Wright said. “It was just strange.”
Nevada County Superior Court Judge C. Anders Holmer on Tuesday accepted Wright’s plea of no contest to driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of .14 percent, and felony possession of cocaine Tuesday, and scheduled sentencing for 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 26.
Cornell said one condition of the plea agreement would be that Wright receives no time in a state prison on the possession plea.
“He could get up to a year in county jail,” Cornell said. “It gets referred to a probation officer, who will do a background investigation and give a recommendation on time served.”
Only if Wright violates the term of his probation could he be ordered to state prison, Cornell said. Additionally, at sentencing Wright will be subject of a fine up to $10,000, although Cornell said the figure is likelier to be between $2,500 and $3,000.
Wright, a 15-year Truckee resident, said that after his sentencing in late December, he’ll not likely return anytime soon.
“I love this place; it’ll always be home,” he said. “But I think I’ll take a break.”
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