Federal Court Digest: Steroids defendant wants charges dismissed

Lawyers for an alternative medicine practitioner asked a judge last week to dismiss the charges against him and throw out evidence gathered from wiretaps.Jesse S. Haggard of Arizona was among a dozen people indicted in Mobile on charges that they conspired to sell anabolic steroids across the country to healthy people who had no legitimate medical reason to take the drugs.

Haggard was not tried with other defendants in a five-week trial earlier this year in Mobile because he fled to Costa Rica and only recently returned to the United States to face the allegations.

Defense lawyer Christ Coumanis argued in his motion that his client was a licensed naturopath who was permitted to prescribe medicine. Applied Pharmacy Services, a compounding pharmacy in Mobile, filled steroid prescriptions from Haggard and other licensed doctors.

“Despite the best efforts of Dr. Haggard, he could not have known nor learned what the government alleges in this case was in fact unlawful,” the motion reads. “This lack of notice denies fundamental due process.”

Prosecutors have not replied. But U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade rejected similar arguments made by the other defendants who stood trial in January.

Bank robber gets almost 4 years

A federal judge in Mobile last week sentenced confessed bank robber Johnathan David Fisher to the maximum sentence under advisory guidelines — two months shy of four years.

The prison term was nine months longer than the low-end sentence recommended under Fisher’s plea agreement.

U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose noted that the 27-year-old Mobile man’s record includes a previous robbery, a federal mail-theft conviction and a pair of probation violations.

It was 2½ months after Fisher got out of prison that he walked into the Regions Bank at 825 S. Schillinger Road on Aug. 27 and used a stickup note to steal $3,140.

“I’m not sure what it’s going to take,” DuBose said Friday. “Am I going to keep seeing you over and over and over again? Why is it going to be different this time?”

Fisher, sporting an orange jumpsuit and a spider tattoo on his neck, said he robbed the bank to pay a crack cocaine debt.

He said he failed to complete a drug-treatment program during his last prison stint because he was placed in the isolation wing.

“I’d like an opportunity to do it again and try to right my wrongs,” he said.

Prichard man may get break

A Prichard drug dealer serving time on a gun offense may get time knocked off his sentence for testifying against a would-be customer whom he chased down with a gun.

A federal judge sentenced Aaron James to 10 years in prison for use of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime after he admitted that he grabbed his partner’s gun and chased after Ryan Wheeler in October 2006.

The other drug dealer, Reco Renard Dickerson, got into a scuffle that led to the shooting death of Wheeler’s friend, Nicholas Arthur Cole.

The violence arose from a dispute over a cocaine purchase at a car wash on Halls Mill Road.

James testified at the sentencing hearing of Wheeler, who was given a year in prison for his role in the drug deal.

“It was believed that the defendant’s testimony would aid the court in the determination of Ryan Wheeler’s role, activity and level of participation in the criminal offense,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Vicki Davis wrote in her request to the judge.

James has already finished a 10-month sentence for the drug charge.

By Brendan Kirby | bkirby@al.com 

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