2017-04-21 / Front Page

Deal made in exchange for guilty plea

Man avoids life sentence on drug charges; gets 15 years
By TIM GULLA
Ledger Staff Writer

A 46-year-old Gaffney man was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on Thursday in Cherokee County General Sessions Court after he pled guilty to several methamphetamine-related charges, all of them considered 3rd drug offenses.

Because of his prior record, it was noted in court, prosecutors could have sought a sentence of life without parole against James Leon Steen, who has a Rita Street address listed in court records. The 15-year prison sentence Steen received Thursday was negotiated in exchange for his guilty pleas.

Steen pleaded guilty before Circuit Court Judge Keith Kelly to charges of distribution of meth for selling meth to undercover operatives on Nov. 12, 2015, March 2, 2016, and March 9, 2016. Steen also pleaded guilty to possession of meth with intent to distribute in connection to a Dec. 29, 2015, incident during which he was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant and found in possession of a bag that contained eight smaller bags of meth as well as a straw and empty bags, Assistant Solicitor Matt Kendall explained in court.

Kendall said the drug sales to the undercover operatives occurred in the area of Kraft Street and Marietta Road. One transaction was for $20, while another was for $40, Kendall informed the court. Steen offered no comments when given an opportunity to address the judge.

Judge Kelly gave Steen credit for 149 days on one of the charges and 277 days on another charge. The judge imposed 15 year state prison sentences on all charges and ruled they will be served concurrently.

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