The former police chief of Wendover pleaded guilty to reduced drug charges Friday as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.
A. June Carter, 36, mumbled "guilty" when asked how he pleaded to charges of possession of cocaine, a third-degree felony, and attempting to obtain a prescription drug by using a false name and address, a class A misdemeanor.Judge Frank Noel ordered him to be sentenced on March 1.
Carter was originally charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute after agents discovered cocaine, metal scales and plastic bags in the trunk of his police car on Feb. 28, 1990.
The day before, his wife, Janese Carter, had been arrested in downtown Salt Lake City after selling cocaine and methamphetamines out of the marked police vehicle to undercover agents. She is currently serving a 1-to-15-year sentence at an undisclosed prison.
His wife was also a police officer in Wendover and was the evidence clerk for the small police department.
"It's been a long year, and we felt we got an offer we couldn't refuse," Carter's attorney, Steven Payton, said of the plea bargain.
Payton said by pleading guilty, his client admits he "had possession (of cocaine) under circumstances outside of being a police officer."
The defense attorney said June Carter married his wife after she became a member of the Wendover Police Department and should have looked into her illegal activities better than he did.
"Mr. Carter was a good police officer, but he was a bad administrator," Payton said. "Quite frankly, he should have fired his own wife. But that's something that's hard to do."
The former police chief also pleaded guilty to giving a false name and address to Lakeview Hospital officials when he attempted to receive an injection of Vistaril and Nubain in November. He was apparently suffering from stress when he tried to obtain the prescriptions and gave false information "because of the notoriety of having pending cases and (being the former) Wendover police chief," Payton said.
When asked about his client's medical problems, Payton said, "I don't know if I'd call it drug abuse. Mr. Carter has a syndrome of drug-seeking behavior." He said Carter suffers from headaches and other pains which justify the use of some kinds of pain-killing drugs.
Carter, who said little as reporters spoke with his attorney after the hearing, shook his head when reporters asked if he had ever used cocaine.
The defendant also suffered a mild heart attack about one month ago and was hospitalized for several days. He said he does not believe his heart attack had anything to do with his court case.
The Carters have nine children, ages 1 to 20 years old. "The care and nurturing of his family has fallen to him," Payton said.
As part of the plea bargain, the state has agreed to recommend to the judge whatever sentence Adult Probation and Parole recommends in its pre-sentence report. Defense attorneys hope the Corrections Department will recommend probation instead of prison.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, the state also agreed that no additional charges would be filed against him. Upon being sentenced, he will also voluntarily surrender his police officer certification.