Ty Anthony Moore, 26, pleads guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, has heroin dealing charge dropped. Ordered to serve one year in jail, but first freed to fish in Bristol Bay this summer.
A suspected heroin dealer who was busted in Dillingham three months ago has pleaded guilty, but not to any drug charges. Ty Anthony Moore, 26, took a plea deal, admitting to being a felon in possession of a weapon. Moore will serve a one year jail sentence, though not till after he has had the summer free to fish in Bristol Bay.
Moore was caught in February, not as part of some elaborate sting, but because a DPD officer was just doing his job late one night.
"Sunday night at about 4:00 a.m., officer Bill Yates noticed a blue pickup truck parked at the Boat Harbor," Chief Dan Pasquariello explained just after the arrest. "Its engine was running, it appeared to have been there a while, and he went up to investigate. He found a man passed out drooling on himself in the driver’s seat."
When the officer asked him out of the vehicle, he felt a concealed pistol in Moore's pants pocket. Moore is a convicted felon, so having that firearm was sufficient for an arrest. A further search turned up 1.4 grams of heroin, some pills, and $8000 cash.
DPD checked with state troopers, who reported that the Togiak Tribal Council had just days before banished Moore for suspected drug trafficking, calling him "the number one dealer" in the village.
Pasquariello had no doubts about his behavior either.
"The officers did a thorough job. We found drugs on Mr. Moore. We got a warrant for his cell phone, [and] found dozens of text messages showing that he was selling drugs. We feel it was a very good case,” he said after it was pleaded down Wednesday.
But the former prosecutor on the case did not go for an indictment on the drug trafficking charge against Moore, leaving it instead as a class A misdemeanor charge of possession. The state struck a deal with Moore’s defense team at the high-priced law firm of Rex Lamont Butler & Associates, offering to drop the drug offense altogether for a plea on the weapons charge. It fell to new assistant district attorney Dan Doty to carry through.
"The deal that was reached essentially focused on the fact that under SB 91, those misdemeanor drug charges carried a maximum potential penalty in Mr. Moore’s case of 30 days at the highest. I think there were also some B misdemeanor ones on there which carried ten days. The felony, however, carried a presumptive of one to three years," Doty said.
Moore pleaded guilty to the felony weapons charge Wednesday, receiving a flat one year sentence with no probation time. It was a deal only the defense appeared happy with. Judge Tina Reigh seemed reluctant to accept the terms.
"The court is in a tough spot," she said, explaining at length that it was not her job to address charges the state opted not to bring, even if those seem the most important ones to the public.
“She made it very clear that she felt that the drug charges were the central aspect of the case," said Doty. "And I understand fully that it’s something that’s very important to people in Dillingham. While I’m the prosecutor in Dillingham, I’m going to take those cases seriously.”
Despite her hesitation, Reigh signed off on the deal, and granted a defense request that Moore not have to start his sentence till after the summer. His attorney said three skippers have offered Moore work in the commercial fishery this season.
This slap on the wrist is not the outcome Dillingham Police hope for when they nab someone selling heroin in town. They were even ordered to give Moore his cell phone back, the one that had the dozens of messages from users hitting him up for a score.
Ever the diplomat, Pasquariello said this is just the way it sometimes goes.
"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crimes, and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders," he said, wryly quoting from the opening sequence of Law & Order. "Once we as police turn our investigations to other components of the criminal justice system we don’t have any control over the outcome."
As of Wednesday afternoon, Ty Moore is a free man till 4:00 p.m. on August 15. At that time he’ll remand to custody to serve the remaining months of a one year sentence on a conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.