Kenai man sentenced to 63 months for dealing meth

A Kenai man was sentenced to 63 months in prison after being convicted of trafficking methamphetamines and having a gun following a felony conviction.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess sentenced Richard Paul Morrison, 37, on Tuesday, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Alaska district office. The Alaska State Troopers Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit arrested Morrison in January 2016 after a lengthy investigation into drug trafficking in the Kenai area, along with four others. The investigation led to troopers seizing about 32 grams of methamphetamines, 1.2 grams of heroin, prescription pills, money and firearms.

Morrison had previously been convicted of felony forgery in Oregon in 2000 and of a methamphetamine-related offense in Nebraska in 2004, according to the news release.

“In January 2016, a confidential informant bought methamphetamine from Morrison three times,” the release states. “Morrison was operating out of his garage in Kenai, where he kept a 12 gauge shotgun with its barrel sawed-off to be less than 18 inches long. Morrison admitted he kept it to protect the methamphetamine.”

The two federal convictions are not the last charges Morrison faces in relation to drug trafficking. He is also charged with manslaughter by controlled substance, a class A felony, in state court. The charge stems from the death of a Soldotna man in December 2015, who Morrison gave methadone to, according to the Department of Justice news release. Methadone is an opioid that can only legally be dispensed by doctors through a prescription to treat chronic pain or in a clinic in controlled doses to treat opioid addiction.

Originally scheduled for a trial, the Kenai District Attorney’s office has reached a plea deal with Morrison for him to plea guilty to criminally negligent homicide and receive a sentence of four years, served consecutively to his federal case, according to the news release. The investigation and prosecutions were conducted jointly between the state and federal agencies, according to the release.

“Judge Burgess commented that Morrison committed a ‘very serious offense’ and was a former drug dealer who ‘got back into it with a bang,’” the release states. “The court found that Morrison was ‘an absolute danger’ to the community and that protecting the public was the most important sentencing factor.”

Morrison’s change of plea hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12 in Kenai, according to Courtview.

Two other individuals arrested in January — Rudy Bongolan and Dustin Leavitt — were prosecuted in state court. Bongolan pled guilty to one count of possession of controlled substances in the fourth degree in October 2016. Leavitt pled guilty to one count of possession of controlled substances in the fourth degree in June 2016, according to Courtview.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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