Plea bargain gives elderly Menlo Park man a chance to receive drug treatment | January 5, 2011 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Community - January 5, 2011

Plea bargain gives elderly Menlo Park man a chance to receive drug treatment

An elderly Menlo Park resident arrested early one morning in August 2010 for possession of a small amount of methamphetamine received a six-month jail sentence, but is likely to spend that time in a drug treatment program of the Veterans Administration hospital in Menlo Park, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

Hulon Pernell Smith, 72 and indigent, was facing possible time behind bars over several earlier drug-related felony charges when on Dec. 28 he pleaded no contest to a charge of bringing a controlled substance into jail, said Mr. Smith's defense attorney Mike Hroziencik of Redwood City.

The plea bargain with Superior Court Judge Lisa Novak includes three years of supervised probation at a cost of $75 per month, $290 in fines, and abstention from alcohol, drugs and possession of weapons, according to a report by Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Mr. Smith is also subject to chemical testing and random search and seizure, must register as a drug offender, and must submit a DNA sample.

Mr. Smith had been pushing a bicycle down Willow Road at 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 13 when Menlo Park police stopped, searched him, and found the drugs and one hypodermic needle, Mr. Hroziencik said. Police then discovered another needle in his shoe during his admission into jail. Suspects are customarily warned about the felony of bringing a controlled substance into jail, and Mr. Smith had been warned, Mr. Hroziencik said.

Had he disclosed the needle in his shoe, Mr. Smith would have been eligible for a mandatory sentence of drug treatment, Mr. Hroziencik said. Judge Novak gave him an equivalent sentence "because he was scraping by on out-patient treatment," Mr. Hroziencik said.

Not everyone is qualified for this variety of drug treatment, but Mr. Smith's status as a veteran of the Korean War helped him, as did accepting the plea bargain and avoiding a trial by jury, Mr. Hroziencik said.

"I think it was a fair resolution. Mr. Smith had no problem with it," he said.

As for Mr. Smith's addiction to methamphetamines, "he's been fighting it," Mr. Hroziencik said. "It's a very addictive drug. I have a lot of clients that have trouble shedding that addiction."


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