Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect mugshot for Jonathan Martin which was provided by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. This version of the story contains the correct mugshot.
An Ole Miss graduate said in court he and two friends ordered and arranged for the shipment of more than 11 pounds of pot to a home in the St. Martin community.
But Kristopher Marcel Nguyen, 23, and his other two co-defendants never got a shot at trying the weed from Colorado, where recreational marijuana use and possession is legal.
Their plans to sell the dope fell through, Nguyen told Judge Dale Harkey on Tuesday, after Jackson County authorities intercepted the package shipped by FedEx. Nguyen said they used FedEx because a friend drove for the company at the time.
A grand jury indicted Nguyen and his two co-defendants — Jonathan Mathieu Martin, 38, of Ocean Springs, and George Robert Tapper III, 35, of St. Martin — in June 2017, each on a charge of trafficking of a controlled substance.
On Tuesday, Nguyen pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of possession with intent to distribute, which is still a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.
In exchange for his plea, Assistant District Attorney Bill Barrett said prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 20 years, with 10 years suspended and 10 years to serve, plus court costs, fines and fees.
Nguyen and his co-defendants had no prior felony records.
Prosecutors recommended the same prison sentence for Tapper and Martin in exchange for their pleas.
All three remain free pending sentencing in May.
Nguyen, who earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Mississippi, said since graduation he has been working at nail salon business in Ocean Springs.
Martin and Tapper pleaded guilty to same charges in March.
Prosecutors recommended the same prison sentence for Martin and Tapper in exchange for their pleas.
In the plea petitions, Martin said he attended Ocean Springs High School, but later earned a GED before attending some college courses at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He also said he is working in a carpet cleaning business and is holding down additional jobs in land surveying and siding installation at homes along with some pipe fitting jobs.
A graduate of St. Martin High School, Tapper wrote that he was holding down three jobs, one dealing with working on air conditioner compressors, another in a family construction business and a third in fire and water restoration efforts.
District Attorney Tony Lawrence, reached Wednesday, said he could not comment on the facts of the case because the pending the sentencing.
“However, I can say that these defendants were engaged in a conspiracy to bring marijuana from a state where it is legal to possess marijuana to Mississippi, where it is illegal to possess it,” Lawrence said. “All of the defendants cooperated with law enforcement throughout the investigation. The state of Mississippi made its recommendation due to their cooperation and lack of criminal history.”