Despite state guidelines that recommended the inmate serve only 18 months in jail, the Utah Board of Pardons has decided on a 1995 parole date for a convicted drug dealer.
During a 1980 search of the home of Tom W. Ossana, 54, police found 4 pounds of cocaine, $27,000 cash and marijuana. A letter to the board from several law enforcement agencies said the cocaine bust was one of the largest quantities ever found in Utah.Ossana is serving a 1-to-15-year sentence for unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
"This is a egregious crime based on the quanitiy itself," said board member Gary Webster. "Because there is such a large quantity involved, the board has the option to go beyound the (18-month) guidelines."
Stipulations of the parole will require Ossana to pay $15,000 in court-ordered fines and will require intensive supervision during his parole.
Ossana told the board that drug dealing is "a tragic decision I made." He estimated he had personally spent $60,000 over the years to support his drug habit and had earned about $120,000 in dealing the drugs.
"It finally dawned on me... I didn't want anything to do with it," he said.
Webster appeared skeptical and asked Ossana why he had continued to sell drugs after he has been arrested. Ossana said he had fully expected to be incarcerated soon and knew that would leave his family in a financial bind if he did not continue to make money.
"I think you've been charming people on for quite some time," said board member Victoria Palacios. She expressed concern about the benefits Ossana may still have as a result of his drug sales.
"You may not need to sell drugs again with the money out there," she said.