The Montgomery County Jail inmate originally indicted for distributing fentanyl that led to the overdose of another inmate was sentenced Tuesday to 7.5 years in prison — well below the non-binding sentencing guideline of 30 years to life because of what a defense attorney said was “mishaps” by an informant.
Charles D. “Chuck” Spencer, 49, had reached plea deals in both a drug conspiracy case and for distributing fentanyl that prosecutors had said ultimately caused the death of inmate Dustin Rybak in November 2016.
Spencer was found guilty and sentenced to 90 months for three counts, two related to the heroin distribution conspiracy case and one for distributing fentanyl that Rybak took on Nov. 2, 2016.
Rybak was “not breathing” when he was taken from the Montgomery County Jail to a local hospital on Nov. 2., 2016. Rybak, who had pleaded guilty in the 2013 death of 19-month-old Takota Hasty and was serving an 18-year sentence, died Nov. 8, 2016. He was 28.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office ruled Rybak’s death an accident.
The superseding bill of information in the second case dropped the statute that included language that drugs he provided caused the death of “D.R.” which could have meant a minimum 10-year sentence just on that count. The conspiracy counts had maximum sentences of 40 and 10 years.
Three other defendants in the conspiracy case were sentenced from time served up to about two years in prison. Spencer was in Montgomery County Jail beginning April 29, 2016, and moved to Butler County Jail on Nov. 11, 2016. He will be awarded all applicable jail-time credit.
“We believe this was a good balance in light of all the things that occurred in the case,” defense attorney Myron Watson said. “The government made him a leader (in the drug conspiracy case), but I don’t think the evidence supported that.”
Watson had filed — and U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose denied — motions asking for the assistant U.S. attorneys to recuse themselves and to dismiss the indictment due to “outrageous government conduct.”
Watson alleged prosecutorial misconduct and suppressing of evidence. Watson said prosecutors only informed him late in the case that a confidential source committed crimes during the investigation of Spencer and that the confidential source would not be called as a witness if Spencer went to trial.
“We are very disappointed by the decision,” Watson said earlier this year. “The court does not understand the full story behind the sham transactions involving (the source) and (co-defendant) Deontay Satterwhite.”
On Tuesday, Watson said the prosecution basically admitted to problems in its case by agreeing to the plea deal terms.
Assistant U.S. attorney Sheila Lafferty was not immediately available for comment.
“I’ve made some bad choices,” Spencer told Rose. “The choices that’ I’ve made have caused pain, hardship and destroyed families. … I take full responsibility.”
Spencer said he’s read many books since his incarceration and that he views and perceives things differently. He said he can’t wait to show off what he’s learned when he is released: “I will be a productive member of society.”
“What you’ve said here today is the right thing to say,” Rose said. “You owe yourself and you owe (your supporters) a better deal. … I’m hoping that you mean what you say.”
Rose also ordered 100 hours of community service, five years’ supervised release and no fine, but did order Spencer to surrender his interests in vehicles, guns and ammunition.