Mason sentenced to 90 days in pot case |

Mason sentenced to 90 days in pot case

A man facing drug sales charges since his arrest 18 months ago was sentenced Monday to 90 days in jail and three years supervised probation.

Charles Waylon Mason was arrested in August 2011 after deputies allegedly found $18,000 in cash and more than 5 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.

A member of the Nevada County Narcotics Task Force had been in the parking lot next to Calanan Park in Nevada City when he saw a man looking into vehicles, possibly trying to break into them. He then saw the man meet with Mason, who was driving a BMW, then get into the front passenger seat for a short period of time before the two men walked away in different directions. The deputy approached the BMW and smelled marijuana through the passenger side window, which was open about 2 inches.

The two men then met back at the car, before a woman arrived and left in the BMW with Mason. A traffic stop was initiated and the deputy found a small baggie of marijuana and $18,000 in cash inside the BMW. He subsequently found a pellet gun, knives, eight baggies of pot with a total weight more than 5 pounds and a scale in the trunk. A Nevada City Police officer who searched Mason reportedly found more than a half-gram of methamphetamine in his pockets.

A search warrant was subsequently served at Mason's residence in Yuba County, where deputies found 30 marijuana plants in an outdoor grow and 44 smaller plants underneath a grow lamp in a detached garage.

Mason was charged with transportation of marijuana for sale, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of a controlled substance.

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On Jan. 25, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy to maintain a place for the sale of a controlled substance.

Mason could have faced a sentence of up to 180 days in jail, and the county probation department recommended 120 days. But Mason's attorneys, Tony Serra and Kate Hallinan, argued that he be sentenced to only 30 days in Nevada County Superior Court Monday.

"He's 31 and has no prior arrests or convictions, not even a traffic (ticket)," Serra said.

While Mason was "habituated" to meth at the time of his arrest, he has had an "epiphany" since then, Serra told Judge Jane York.

"He went directly from being released (from jail) to a NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting," Hallinan said. "This was a wake-up call."

Mason has secured a job performing perk and mantle testing, Serra said, adding that he also has a lucrative hobby — panning for gold.

"I have learned a huge lesson," Mason told the judge.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips said he would not object to Mason retaining a medical marijuana recommendation, but he urged York to impose conditions that would prohibit him from growing collectively.

"I've seen plenty of drug cases in this court — this is not the worst, but not the most trivial, either," Phillips said. "Giving 30 days in a felony is not the message the court wants to send."

Phillips suggested alternative sentencing such as electronic monitoring as a possibility, but Mason said he was not interested in that.

"My job will be waiting for me when I get out," he said.

In the end, York sentenced Mason to three years supervised probation and the 90 days in county jail; he is to surrender April 29.

York said Mason can grow his own marijuana, but cannot grow or process it for others.

Heroin case resolved with plea deal

One of the defendants in a case involving cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and cannabis took a plea agreement in court Friday.

Jose Jesus Magana Montez pleaded no contest to one count of possessing heroin for sale in return for a stipulated sentence of four years in prison.

That sentence will be served locally, said Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips.

His co-defendant, Juli Abdeen, is set to return to court April 29 to set a trial date.

Their charges stemmed from an April 2012 arrest when narcotics task force officers found a wide variety of illegal drugs during a search of Abdeen's Penn Valley residence.

Members of the Nevada County Sheriff's task force served a search warrant at Abdeen's home in the 16000 block of Del Mar Way. Magana Montez, who had been standing in the driveway, allegedly fled on foot over a fence, across Del Mar Way, through a field and through a blackberry patch before deputies found him hiding in a stream bed. Magana Montez allegedly refused to comply with instructions and was pepper-sprayed.

He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and was searched; deputies allegedly found about $1,000 in cash on him, along with one counterfeit $100 bill.

Magana Montez's vehicle was searched and deputies allegedly found a large amount of drugs in baggies inside a small duffel bag — 5 grams of cocaine, 40 grams of heroin, 128 grams of methamphetamine and 155 grams of concentrated cannabis. Abdeen was arrested on suspicion of keeping a place for the sale of controlled substances, as well as being an accessory to a crime.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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