Two More Drug Conspiracy Defendants Plead Guilty In Casper
Two more defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday for their roles in a state district court case related to the federal multistate prescription drug conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by a Casper doctor and his wife.
During his hearing in Natrona County District Court, Charles Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, a Schedule II drug, and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk told Judge Daniel Forgey the state would dismiss one count of conspiracy to deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance -- (the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax); and another count of conspiracy to deliver heroin.
In exchange for the plea, Schenk and Edwards' defense attorney Dylan Rosalez agreed Edwards would serve two concurrent terms of four years to a maximum of seven years of imprisonment.
The judge is not bound by the terms of the plea agreement.
If Edwards' case had gone to trial and he was found guilty on all counts, he could have faced up to 20 years for each of the two heroin conspiracy counts and the Schedule II conspiracy count, and up to two years for the Schedule IV conspiracy count.
Edwards told Forgey he was "just a driver" for people who were illegally selling oxycodone. He received oxycodone in exchange for driving and for his addiction, he said.
Edwards also said he received heroin from someone else for distribution to others, and received heroin in exchange to support his addiction.
He is being held on a $25,000 bond, but Schenk and Rosalez agreed to release him on a personal recognizance bond when he enters treatment next month.
The other defendant to change her plea was Tammy Jonas, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
In exchange, the state will dismiss of a count to deliver alprazolam and recommend a suspended three- to five-year prison term and a three-year term of probation.
Jonas said she told a friend that another friend had oxycodone, and in exchange she received oxycodone.
Their pleas are "cold pleas," meaning the deal is off if they commit a crime or fails to fully cooperate with their presentence investigations before their sentencings.
Seven other defendants have entered guilty pleas to some of the charges, and the 10th defendant is scheduled to change her plea next month. Five other defendants named in the conspiracy case have yet to be arrested.
Local, state and federal agencies discovered the defendants during the investigation of Dr. Shakeel Kahn and his wife, Lyn, after reports he was prescribing abnormally excessive amounts of controlled substances, mostly opiates.
Authorities learned people would pay $500 in cash a month to Kahn for whatever prescription they wanted, as long as they signed a contract stating they were not wearing a wire, working with law enforcement, and promising never to call the doctor a drug dealer.
The Kahns were arrested at their home in Casper on Nov. 30.
They and other defendants Paul Beland, and Shakeel Kahn's brother, Nabeel, remain in custody awaiting trial in federal court. They face charges including drug conspiracy distribution, use of communications in drug distribution, firearms charges, and operating a continuing criminal enterprise.