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Men sentenced in Tahoe drug sale

Sun News Service

LAKE TAHOE “-A Lake Tahoe man and an Arizona man accused of selling prescription pain pills from a Stateline casino hotel room were sentenced Monday to probation that includes a year in Douglas County Jail.

Garrett J. Churchill of Goodyear, Ariz., and Ryan Ferreira of South Lake Tahoe, both 24, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, a category E felony that mandates probation.

The suspects were arrested last October in a hotel room, and investigators recovered 22 OxyContin pills, 3 Suboxone pills, 18 grams of marijuana, 2.4 grams of hashish, a hypodermic syringe and other drug paraphernalia and $3,005 believed to be drug sales proceeds.

The defendants claimed they had proof they won the money at the gaming tables.

Investigators said one of the suspects admitted that he and his partner had conducted more than 40 drug transactions from the hotel room.

They reportedly were selling the pills for $60 each.

Both men have prior convictions in Arizona and California.

District Judge Michael Gibbons ordered Churchill to turn himself in at the jail at 9 a.m. Tuesday to give him time to get his affairs in order. Churchill must report to Arizona authorities within 30 days of his release from Douglas County Jail to answer charges in that jurisdiction.

“If Arizona revokes my probation, I am looking at 2-3 years in prison,” Churchill said.

Gibbons ordered Ferreira turned over to California authorities where he faces similar charges.

“I want you back here on Feb. 2 unless you are in custody in California,” Gibbons said.

Churchill tested positive Monday for oxycodone. He admitted to Gibbons that a friend gave him a Percocet on Saturday.

Gibbons refused to give him credit for 61 days he served on house arrest.

“That’s 61 days you could have earned that you just blew,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons also ordered Churchill and Ferreira to have no contact after Doug Swalm, chief alternative sentencing officer, said the two were working together at a ski resort.

He gave Ferreira credit for 52 days in Douglas County Jail.

Each man was sentenced to four years in Nevada State Prison, suspended, placed on three years probation and ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees.

“I hope the two of you have learned a lesson,” Gibbons said. “You’re too young and too dumb to engage in this type of activity. You’re lucky you are not facing lengthy prison terms.”


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