Ryan Gaston pleaded guilty in August to two counts possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime. He reached a plea deal with prosecutors in which both sides asked for a 10-year prison sentence.
Gaston, 30, apologized to U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko and his loved ones, who sat in the viewing gallery. He said that he made a mistake and that while he agreed to the 10-year sentence, he thought it was too long. He said he had a concealed-carry permit for the loaded Glock pistol that investigators found at his apartment.
“I was wrong but I do kind of feel that 10 years is definitely a long time,” Gaston said.
Boyko sympathized, though he said he agreed with the plea agreement. He said even if he wanted to show leniency, mandatory-minimum laws would lead a federal appeals court to overturn a shorter sentence “in a heartbeat.”
He was arrested Feb. 3 following a traffic stop in which a Cuyahoga County sheriff’s K-9 unit found pills, crack cocaine and a scale in his car, according to a criminal complaint. That led to a search his apartment on Garden Drive, where investigators reported finding additional pills, a gun and more crack.
The pills found in his apartment were labeled as Oxycodone, but a test showed that they were fentanyl, the complaint says.
Boyko recommended Gaston participate in the Federal Bureau of Prison’s 500-hour Residential Drug Abuse Program. The BOP can reduce an inmate’s sentence for people convicted of nonviolent offenses who successfully complete the program.
Defense attorney Russell Tye said after the sentencing that he was unsure if Gaston would qualify for the program because Gaston was convicted of a gun crime.
Linda Gaston, Ryan Gaston’s mother, told the judge that she raised her son as a Jehovah’s Witness. She said that he made a mistake but is not a bad person.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Baeppler said the pills could have killed an unsuspecting user, but they luckily did not.
Pure fentanyl can exponentially more powerful than Oxycodone, federal prosecutors say. Cuyahoga County is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis, and federal prosecutors said last week that more than 600 people are expected to die from heroin, fentanyl and opioid overdoses by the end of the year.
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