Heroin dealer sent to prison

A Marietta man who has already spent time in prison in Ohio and West Virginia was sentenced Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to 15 more months in prison for selling heroin.

Kyle L. Sparks, 24, of 830 Ridge St., was sentenced on two fifth-degree and one fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs for a trio of heroin deals that took place with a confidential informant in January.

The first drug deal, on Jan. 18, did not involve an exchange of cash, but was apparently an attempt to settle an old debt, explained Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

“The informant came to officers and said ‘(Sparks) just gave me two does of heroin because he owed me money, but he has more. Do you want me to go get more?’ said Schneider.

The informant bought more heroin from Sparks on that same day and then bought 10 unit doses from Sparks on Jan. 22, an amount which elevated the final sale to a higher degree felony.

Sparks had originally been indicted on two fourth-degree and one third-degree felony counts of drug trafficking because the sales had occurred within 1,000 feet of Marietta Middle School, another elevating factor. However, that specification was dropped as part of the plea agreement, said Schneider.

Sparks was ultimately arrested Jan. 23 after a search warrant was executed at his home. A small quantity of heroin was found hidden in a heating duct resulting in a fifth-degree felony count of drug possession, which was also later dropped as part of the plea.

Sparks made a brief apologetic statement to the court prior to sentencing.

“I messed up. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again,” he said.

Sparks previously spent a year in prison in West Virginia on a charge of conspiracy to commit breaking and entering and a year in prison in Ohio on a drug trafficking charge, said Schneider. He was on parole when arrested in January.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth sentenced Sparks according to an agreed disposition. Sparks was ordered to serve 11 months in prison on each of the fifth-degree felony charges and 15 months in prison on the fourth-degree felony charge, all to run concurrently.

He was also ordered to pay $700 restitution to the Major Crimes Task Force, part of which was to be taken from money found on Sparks’ person during the search of his home, said Schneider.

Officers recovered $358 during the search, $160 of which was money from the previous day’s drug buy. That $160 would automatically be put toward restitution. However, it was up to the court whether the remaining $198 be put toward restitution, court costs, or returned to Sparks.

Washington County Public Defender Ray Smith, who was filling in for Sparks’ regular attorney, relayed Sparks request that the money be given to Sparks’ girlfriend to help with bills.

“Since it’s not the proceeds of criminal activity, we’d ask it be released to her,” said Smith.

Burnworth agreed to have the $198 released to the woman.