Engineering student gets probation in drug charge

An electrical engineering student who admitted selling cocaine to pay off credit card debt was sentenced Monday to probation which includes 30 days in Douglas County Jail.

"I can't let you walk out of here without any incarceration," District Judge Michael Gibbons told Sachin Verma. "There has to be some jail time if you're out selling drugs. If you hadn't provided substantial assistance, you'd be on your way to prison for a minimum of two years."

Verma, 22, of Carson City, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in a controlled substance.

He was accused of selling 112 grams of cocaine to his codefendant Dec. 21, 2005, in Chili's restaurant and faced up to 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

A deputy testified Monday that Verma provided substantial assistance by giving up his cocaine source.

He also testified that Verma was uncooperative during his arrest, resulting in one investigator breaking his leg while attempting to take Verma into custody.

Verma's lawyer, William Routsis, said his client was that rare exception who would never be in trouble again.

"I really do understand the seriousness of what I did," Verma said. "I am so sorry. I want to be able to prove to the court, my family and society that I'm better than what I did. I am 100 percent positive if given the chance to continue with work, school and counseling, I can be somebody this court can be proud of."

Gibbons sentenced Verma to six years in Nevada State Prison, suspended, and placed him on probation for five years.

He must complete 200 hours of community service and has 90 days to serve his jail sentence.

He is subject to random search and seizure and must abstain from alcohol and controlled substance.

Verma is to stay in school or maintain full-time employment.

n An undercover drug informant who admitted stealing $1,000 in marked funds was sentenced to probation Monday after his attorney argued her client had provided assistance that led to 18 drug arrests.

Roberto Rodriguez-Meza, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of grand larceny.

"I feel really bad to be here in front of you again," he told District Judge Michael Gibbons. "I accept that I am a drug addict. I would like to take some rehabilitation classes. I want to look at the road ahead with my family and leave behind my bad friendships."

Lawyer Terri Roeser said law enforcement officers wanted the charge against Rodriguez-Meza dismissed because he provided so much assistance. She said if he was sent to prison, he would have to be placed in protective custody.

"Eighteen different individuals are in custody," she said. "We are talking about ounces of methamphetamine and pounds of cocaine off the streets that could have fallen into the hands of children, neighbors, people in this community," Roeser said.

She said authorities continued to use Rodriguez-Meza after his arrest.

Gibbons sentenced Rodriguez-Meza to three years in prison, suspended, and placed him on three years probation.

As part of the probation, he must serve an additional six months in Douglas County Jail with credit for 72 days in custody.

Gibbons ordered him to cooperate with law enforcement and the District Attorney's office.

He must undergo substance abuse treatment and abstain from drugs and alcohol during his probation.

Gibbons also ordered him to cooperate with immigration officials.

"If that includes leaving the country, you are not to return without the proper papers," Gibbons said.

"You need to stay away from drugs and are not to associate with any defendants in cases you've been assisting law enforcement unless it's in court," Gibbons said.


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