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Judge leaves max penalty hanging over dealer

A Superior man convicted of selling prescription drugs he bought in Mexico and transported to the Twin Ports was given three years probation and six months in jail.

If he doesn't keep clear of trouble, however, Edward David St. John, 61, could face penalties ranging from six to 15 years in prison.

St. John pleaded no contest to two counts of delivering Schedule I or II narcotics and one count of delivering Schedule IV drugs in November in Douglas County Court.

Wednesday, Judge George Glonek listened to sentence recommendations from Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Lovejoy and St. John's attorney, Rick Gondik, before adding a variation of his own.

Both attorneys requested that a one-year jail sentence be imposed and stayed, and St. John be given three years probation. Glonek chose to leave the entire bulk of the sentence hanging over the Superior man's head -- up to 15 years on two of the counts and up to six years on the other.

He based his decision on the seriousness of the charges -- all felonies -- and the large amount of prescription pills found at St. John's home by police.

"It is important you are successful on probation or you will be back in front of the court," the judge said. At that point, Glonek could impose up to the maximum penalty based on the violation committed.

St. John told Glonek he began abusing prescription drugs after all the ribs on his left side were crushed in a 1989 car accident. He was prescribed Dilaudid and Lortabs, but eventually began self-medicating.

"He felt the prescriptions were not enough to alleviate his pains," Gondik said.

St. John began making trips to Mexico to buy between $500 and $1,000 worth of prescription drugs at a time. He told police he would purchase pills for friends as well as for his own use and sell the rest. When Superior Police served a warrant on St. John's South Superior residence in April, they found 1,300 prescription pills including Valium, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone and Clonazepam.

"I truly am sorry," St. John told Glonek Wednesday. "I know what I did was wrong."

Conditions of his probation include spending six months in jail, paying a $150 fine on each charge and $810 in restitution and undergoing a chemical dependency evaluation.

Maria Lockwood covers public safety. E-mail mlockwood@ or call (715) 395-5025.