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Meth case: Ex-deputy to serve four years.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

A former Coos County sheriff's deputy arrested in a wide-ranging methamphetamine investigation last year was sentenced in federal court Thursday to four years and three months in prison.

Damon Richard Yanes II, 35, quit his job as a jail deputy after he began drinking when his marriage failed, according to court records.

"I went from alcohol to drugs. From there it was over," Yanes told U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken in an earlier court hearing. "When I did drugs, nothing else mattered. I blew everything. My house. My car. My savings. My retirement. Everything went so quick."

Yanes then began selling drugs in order to have drugs to use. Undercover investigators bought meth from Yanes and he became one of 25 suspects arrested last year in Coos and Douglas counties in an 18-month undercover operation dubbed "Black Ice."

Yanes cooperated with investigators, took responsibility for his crimes and entered drug treatment while awaiting the conclusion of his case.

He could have faced a much stiffer sentence, but investigation by defense lawyer Robert Schrank determined that the drugs Yanes sold weighed a fraction of a gram less than 50 grams, the benchmark weight for a longer sentence under federal sentencing guidelines, according to court records.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Papagni said Yanes was well aware of the devastating impact of meth use from his experience working in a jail.

"He was making the same things true for other people. They were using drugs he was selling," Papagni said.

Aiken commended Yanes for his efforts to recover from addiction, but reminded him that he'd betrayed an oath to protect his community and his former peers in law enforcement.

"Think what risk you put on your colleagues," she told him. "Think of all the kids whose parents are going to be put away because you sold them drugs. You have a lot of repair work to do."

She encouraged him to work to come out of prison and be a productive citizen.

"I did have a good life at one time," Yanes said. "I'll never do this again."

In January, Yanes came to court expecting a 70-month prison term. However federal probation officer Lynn Purdue noticed another provision of federal sentencing laws that lowered his presumed sentence.

In Thursday's sentencing hearing, Aiken commended Purdue and lawyers in the case for ensuring that Yanes got a fair sentence under federal law. She allowed Yanes until mid-May to settle family matters before beginning the prison term.
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Title Annotation:Crime; The man avoids a longer prison term under federal sentencing guidelines
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 3, 2006
Words:418
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