PINEVILLE, Mo. — A Noel man took a plea offer this week granting him a suspended sentence on a drug trafficking conviction and dismissing related charges of stealing and unlawful possession of a firearm and a separate misdemeanor charge of passing counterfeit $20 bills.
Gary A. Cook, 49, pleaded guilty in McDonald County Circuit Court to a count of first-degree trafficking in drugs. Circuit Judge Gregory Stremel accepted Cook's plea deal with the McDonald County prosecutor's office and assessed him an underlying term of 10 years with execution of the sentence suspended and the defendant placed on supervised probation for five years.
The conviction stems from an arrest Feb. 7, 2017, when the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team discovered more than 30 grams of methamphetamine in safe in the master bedroom of the residence of Cook and Janie L. Clark, 34, at 1090 Hilltop Road in McDonald County.
Cook also was found to be in alleged possession of a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle that had been reported stolen on Sept. 3, 2016, from Timothy Bentz of Neosho and six firearms, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed with the charges. The affidavit stated that Cook had been convicted of a felony in 2001 in Benton County Circuit Court and is prohibited from possessing firearms.
Cook had been arrested less than two months before the seizure of the meth at his residence on a counterfeiting charge. Court documents alleged that he tried to cash a phony $20 bill at BJ's Mini Mart in McDonald County on Dec. 24, 2016, but was stopped from doing so by a store clerk who recognized the bill as counterfeit. An affidavit states that he told her he got the bill from an ATM.
Four days later, he allegedly paid a bill with National TV Sales and Rental with three phony $20 bills and subsequently claimed that he had received the bills in payment for a tattoo he had given another man, according to the affidavit.
Clark, who also was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, pleaded guilty in October 2017 to a reduced charge of possession of a controlled substance and received a suspended imposition of sentence with five years of supervised probation. That probation was revoked in 2018 and again in 2019, but she ultimately was placed back on supervised probation both times.