Three friends who ordered and arranged for a 40-plus pound shipment of a legal weed from Colorado caught a break when it came down to the sentencing in their case.
Prosecutors had recommended Kristopher Nguyen, 24, Jonathan Mathieu Martin, 38, of Ocean Springs, and George Robert Tapper III, 35, each face a sentence of 20 years, with 10 years to serve, for the FedEx pot shipment that Jackson County authorities intercepted before the trio got a chance to try legal weed they planned to sell.
The trio said they thought they had ordered much less than what was shipped. In addition, all three had no criminal record.
Judge Dale Harkey dismissed the recommendation that each serve 10 years in prison for their crimes when it came down to their sentencing last week.
The judge instead cut them a break, sentencing all three to 20 years in prison each, suspended 14 years of that sentence and leaving them six years each to serve in prison.
A grand jury indicted all three on charges of trafficking a controlled substance, but in exchange for their pleas, each was able to enter guilty pleas to reduced drug charges.
Nguyen graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor of science degree, but said he had been working at a nail salon in Ocean Springs at the time of his arrest. He claimed he wanted 11 pounds of the marijuana, and his other two friends ordered their own portion of the shipment.
At the time of his arrest, Tapper was working three jobs, one involving the installation of air conditioner compressors, another in a family construction business and another in fire and water restoration efforts.
Martin was believed to be the mastermind behind the move to order the legal weed and his two friends joined in to order some for themselves to use and sell.
Martin attended school at Ocean Springs High School but dropped out and pursued a GED before completing some college classes at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Over the years, he worked in the carpet cleaning business and had held down other jobs in land surveying and home siding installations as well as doing some odd jobs in pipe-fitting.
Nguyen said when he entered his guilty plea, he and his friends had decided to use FedEx for the shipment because they had a friend who drove for the company.
According to attorneys representing the trio, all three thought they were going to receive much less than the 45-plus pound package officials intercepted.
The final sentencing came down last week.