Several defendants came to a fork in the road on Monday, Jun. 17. They faced sentencing for the actions that brought them to the 11th Judicial Court, presided over by Judge Jim Shirley.
On March 4, 2019, Veronica Gonzalez pleaded guilty to grand larceny.
The victim attended Monday’s sentencing hearing. Judge Shirley gave Gonzalez 180 days in jail, suspended. In addition to $900 in restitution, she must pay $178 in court fees and will be on formal probation for up to three years.
The judge ordered Gonzalez to get a substance abuse evaluation within 30 days and follow its recommendations.
Gonzalez must abstain from alcohol and controlled substances, including marijuana, for the term of her probation. The Division of Parole and Probation will conduct random urinalyses. The defendant must have no contact with the victim.
James Peter Lucas III, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a dangerous drug without a prescription, both gross misdemeanors. He admitted that on Aug. 30, 2017, he possessed MDMA and LSD at Burning Man.
Each offense is punishable by 364 days in jail, fines of up to $2000 or a combination of both, explained DDA Todd Banks. At the discretion of the court, probation is on the table, he added. Defense Attorney John Arrascada, of Reno, asked the judge to waive the presentencing investigation report and proceed with immediate sentencing. Lucas came to court from Chicago.
Arrascada noted that, at 19, Lucas enlisted in the Navy. He was deployed three times in Operation Enduring Freedom and awarded three naval achievement medals. Lucas earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Old Dominion University.
Arrascada observed that the Burning Man arrest was Lucas’ first brush with the law. He’s had no contact with law enforcement since. The defendant stood with a military bearing.
The judge observed that law enforcement initially charged Lucas with trafficking in amount greater than 28 grams, punishable by decades in prison.
“I would not have had discretion had you been convicted of that charge,” he added. “Your promising career would have ended in misery.”
The judge credited Lucas for the six days he spent in the Pershing County jail two summers ago, deeming the unexpected detour from Burning Man sufficient punishment. Lucas paid a total of $4,238 in fines and court fees.
Robert Lee Yates, of Calif., came to court from jail. He faced sentencing for the unlawful taking of a vehicle. The DA’s Office contacted the victim, but he chose not to attend the hearing. Kyle Swanson represented Yates.
“My client trusted a little too much,” said Swanson. “He believed an individual had the authority to take a vehicle from her father. He didn’t realize that permission was not given. For Mr. Yates’ lack of diligence, he’s spent 35 days in jail.”
As part of the plea negotiation, Yates testified against the co-defendant in Justice Court. He also paid $2,500 to return the vehicle to the owner. Yates paid to have its widows replaced. Someone busted them while the car was in impound.
“He’s learned an expensive and valuable lesson here,” said Swanson, arguing for a sentence of court-supervised probation.
The judge gave Yates 180 days in jail, suspended, with informal probation not to exceed 270 days. Yates must pay court fees and a $350 extradition fee.
To get to her hearing, Shaneh Andrea Parks, boarded a Greyhound bus from Calif. to Reno. From Reno, she caught a ride to Lovelock. The trip lasts 15 hours each way.
Parks admitted to transporting marijuana in her car at Burning Man last year. She asked for a diversion program, believing she could benefit from the educational component.
Her probation will not exceed three years. During that time she must abstain from alcohol and controlled substances, including marijuana, as monitored by random tests.
The judge ordered Parks to enroll in a substance abuse treatment program in Calif.
“You stand convicted of the charge, but I’m delaying sentencing to give you a chance to complete the programs,” he said.