A West Valley couple pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute and use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce allowed Teresa Y. and Robert H. Barkau, both 33, to return home without posting bail after they entered their plea. He warned Robert Barkau that he would be under the supervision of pretrial services and subject to random drug tests in the weeks before the trial.Boyce told Robert Barkau if he failed a single drug test, he would be put in the Salt Lake County Jail to await trial. "There's only one strike in this ball game," Boyce said.
Early media reports said the couple was reported to police by their 14-year-old son who was inspired to turn his parents in by his school's "Just Say NO" anti-drug campaign.
However, both Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Lubeck and the couple's attorney said that story was incorrect. Lubeck refused to clarify the story, saying that the media account was wrong but he was unable to discuss cases before trial.
The couple's attorney, Robert VanSciver, said a "small gang" of the boy's acquaintances "muscled him" into stealing marijuana from his parent's stash. The boy was caught after giving the marijuana to his friends and will face charges in juvenile court, VanSciver said. He turned his parents in as part of his cooperation with the police over his own arrest, he said.
West Valley police found approximately 18 pounds of marijuana in the Barkau home Feb. 13 along with $3,500 cash and weapons, including an assault rifle. Police estimated the street value of the stash between $50,000 and $54,000.
The boy remains in his parents' custody. Boyce warned the couple not to tamper with any of the prosecution's witnesses before their trial. The trial, expected to last two days, will be held in U.S. District Judge David Winder's court. However, a trial date was not set at the hearing because Winder is out of town.
Boyce noted that the couple each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the drug charge and a mandatory, minimum sentence of five years in prison without probation or parole for the weapons charge.
Although the couple posted no bail, they signed a $20,000 signature bond to assure their trial appearance.