The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

August 24, 2012

Joplin man pleads guilty in drug case

A 31-year-old Joplin man pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge in an alleged drug-trafficking case in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Benjamin S. Wright pleaded guilty to felony possession of crack cocaine in a plea deal with the Jasper County prosecutor’s office that would limit the prison time he might receive to no more than three years. Wright had been charged with second-degree trafficking in drugs, which can carry from five to 15 years in prison.

Circuit Judge David Mouton delayed formal acceptance or rejection of the plea bargain, and ordered the completion of a sentencing-assessment report on the defendant. The judge set Wright’s sentencing hearing for Nov. 16.

The defendant was arrested on the charge Aug. 8, 2010, after being observed by a police officer allegedly smoking marijuana with two other men outside the Vibe nightclub on East Seventh Street. A probable-cause affidavit states that the officer saw what he believed to be a hand-to-hand sale of drugs take place and confronted the men. Wright reportedly fled but was caught less than a block away.

The affidavit states that he had a bag containing 2.5 grams of crack cocaine and a bag containing some marijuana in his possession.

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