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Big pot bust leads to prison for Fayette County man

| Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County man who police said had 50 pounds of marijuana in a van that was stopped for not using a turn signal was sentenced on Wednesday to 5 to 10 years in prison.

A jury in September found Richard Allen Settles Jr., 33, of McClellandtown, guilty of possession and possession with intent to deliver.

Judge Nancy Vernon on Wednesday imposed the sentence, but Settles' attorney indicated he plans to appeal to state Superior Court.

The same charges against a co-defendant, Derrick Snyder, 42, of Uniontown, were dismissed in November 2012 when Judge John F. Wagner Jr. found that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to support the charges.

In a criminal complaint, Uniontown police Officer Jamie Holland said he stopped the van at the A-Plus convenience store on Connellsville Street on Jan. 27, 2012.

As he approached the driver's side window, he smelled an odor of marijuana.

Settles, who was driving the van, got out. A search revealed he was carrying a plastic bag of marijuana, police said.

Police obtained a search warrant for the van.

It yielded 24 “large green bundles of suspected marijuana” in two garbage bags and $1,300 cash, police said. At the time, District Attorney Jack Heneks Jr. estimated the street value of the marijuana at $100,000.

Settles' attorney, James Jeffries of Washington, Pa., on Wednesday asked Vernon to allow his client to stay out of prison, pending an appeal. Jeffries said Settles is employed and his wife is expecting a child.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Brooks objected.

“We're not dealing with a dime bag of weed,” Brooks said. “We're dealing with fifty pounds of marijuana. He's done this to himself, your honor.”

Vernon ordered Settles to be taken to jail, but she said she will reconsider Jeffries' request, pending the filing of post-sentence motions.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com

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