The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 21, 2012

Man pleads guilty to reduced charge in local drug case

A Joplin man pleaded guilty this week to a reduced charge of manufacturing a controlled substance in a case involving a methamphetamine lab discovered inside a house near a school.

Richard D. Hetz, 39, had been facing a Class A felony count of manufacturing meth within 2,000 feet of a school, an offense that carries 10 to 30 years or more in prison. He pleaded guilty Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court to a Class B felony offense of manufacturing the drug in a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office.

Circuit Judge David Dally delayed formal action on the plea bargain and ordered the completion of a sentencing-assessment report. The judge set Hetz’s sentencing hearing for Jan. 28.

Hetz was charged after a search warrant served Jan. 16 of this year on his home at 2633 E. 11th St. turned up several chemical components and equipment for the “shake-and-bake” method of producing the drug. A probable-cause affidavit said the house was within 2,000 feet of Eastmorland Elementary School.