Heroin dealer could get probation

Sentencing is set Jan. 6 for a 20-year-old Minden man who admitted selling heroin.

Phillip McElvain faces up to 12 years in prison and $40,000 in fines, but he is eligible for probation and a drug diversion program.

District Judge Dave Gamble ordered McElvain to remain in Douglas County Jail pending an evaluation. He said if treatment is ordered, McElvain may be admitted to the Sierra Recovery Center and he would delay sentencing.

The transactions occurred in April, one at McElvain's parents' house and the other at the Johnson Lane General Store.

His parents posted $25,000 cash bail, but he was taken back into custody in October for drinking at his home.

"From June 23 to Oct. 24 he did perfect," said his lawyer, John Arrascada of Reno. "He attended college at Lake Tahoe and worked for the forest service."

He was arrested when adult probation officer Doug Swalm discovered McElvain had been drinking at home.

"Mr. McElvain needs treatment," Arrascada said. "He advanced like the youth of country from pain pills to heroin. He was selling it to pay for his addiction."

Prosecutor Laurie Trotter said the district attorney's office would oppose diversion.

"We see this as a very serious offense," she said. "The defendant is not willing to be honest with his own evaluator, why should he be afforded treatment?"

Gamble said he would return the bail to McElvain's parents, but would not release him.

"I don't want him out of custody for his own health," Gamble said.

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