Drug dealer gets probation

By Tim Ruzek

A Mower County judge agreed to put a drug dealer on probation Wednesday while acknowledging he wouldn’t hesitate to enact a prison term if there’s a probation violation.

"You’re on a very, very short leash," Judge Fred Wellmann told 28-year-old James Randall Stewart.

Wellmann sentenced Stewart to 60 days in jail with work-release privileges and stayed a four-year prison term for up to 25 years of probation, saying that Stewart has shown he’s amenable to probation.


Stewart, who got three days of jail credit, pleaded guilty in November to a single felony count of second-degree drug crime.

According to the criminal complaint, a confidential reliable informant for local authorities bought methamphetamine and ecstasy from Stewart during July and August 2006 in Austin. The complaint says authorities overall bought 13.2 grams of meth and six tablets of ecstasy from Stewart.

Stewart’s defense attorney Paul Spyhalski successfully requested Wellmann to make a downward dispositional departure from state sentencing guidelines, which called for Stewart to be sent to prison. Stewart is employed and is in the middle of an eight-week, outpatient treatment program for chemical dependency, Spyhalski said.

County Attorney Kristen Nelsen didn’t argue against the request in court because the prosecution had agreed to remain silent at sentencing under the plea agreement with Stewart.

The judge, who also stayed a $1,000 fine for Stewart during his probation, ordered Stewart to maintain full-time employment and complete chemical-dependency treatment.

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