Garrard magistrate to serve 6 months for drug trafficking; blames May-September romance for decision

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMay 23, 2014 

NICHOLASVILLE — Former Garrard County magistrate Ronnie Lane was sentenced Friday to serve six months in jail on felony drug-trafficking charges.

Adam Zeroogian, Lane's attorney, told the judge that Lane "has resigned his position." Lane and Zeroogian had no comment after the sentencing.

Lane had been a member of Garrard Fiscal Court off and on since the mid-1980s. He had filed for re-election after Kentucky State Police arrested him in September on a drug-trafficking charge of selling prescription painkillers in Garrard County. He later withdrew his candidacy, but it was too late to take his name off the May 20 primary ballot. He received 9 percent of the vote among four candidates in the Republican primary for District 3 magistrate.

Lane, 74, had refused plea deals from prosecutors, and so his was an "open plea" that relied on the judge's discretion for punishment.

On Friday, Jessamine Circuit Judge Hunter Daughtery initially sentenced Lane to 10 years in prison after Lane had pleaded guilty earlier this spring to six counts of trafficking in a controlled substance (such as Oxycontin and Percocet) in Garrard County and one count of trafficking oxycodone in Jessamine County.

But Daugherty probated that sentence, so Lane will serve only six months in the Jessamine County Detention Center. Lane is to report to the jail May 30.

Lane asked if he could be allowed to participate with the Garrard County Fair, which is June 23-28. Lane said he has worked with the fair for 27 years.

"I don't think I can help you out on that," Daugherty said.

A pre-sentence investigation recommended that, given his health and age, Lane should serve 30 days in jail. Zeroogian asked Daugherty to grant Lane a "conditional discharge" in which a person avoids jail time if he stays out of legal trouble for a specific period of time.

Just because Lane is a public official, "he shouldn't be punished more than anyone else for this case," Zeroogian argued.

Zeroogian said Lane, who is married and has two adult children, had a relationship with a younger woman "he shouldn't have been carrying on with." Zeroogian did not identify the woman or say how the relationship began.

"He's already been destroyed," Zeroogian said of Lane. "No question he's learned from this. No question he's not going to do it again. He has been punished as significantly as we can punish him."

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bobby Gullette responded by saying that drug traffickers convicted in Jessamine County "get a whole lot more than 30 days in jail." Gullette said most traffickers who appear in court "are young, stupid and addicted."

What Lane pleaded guilty to "was no more, no less than drug trafficking," Gullette said. "He may be old and he may have been stupid, but he isn't an addict. ... He has shown absolutely no remorse."

In conclusion, Gullette said, "I cannot imagine that 30 days is sufficient."

Before the sentence was handed down, Daugherty said he, too, was surprised by the recommendation for 30 days in jail.

"I still feel like Mr. Lane felt he was above the law. 'I can do this stuff openly and blatantly and there's not going to be any consequences,'" Daugherty said.

Daugherty acknowledged that "old guys are doing stupid things for young women" these days, and mentioned how Donald Sterling, co-owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, is in danger of losing that NBA team as an offshoot of a relationship with a younger woman.

Daugherty sentenced Lane to 10 years for six counts of trafficking in Garrard, and an additional five years for the Jessamine trafficking count. The penalty for the Jessamine count was to be served at the same time as the 10 years for the Garrard counts, for a total of 10 years, Daugherty said.

Daugherty then said he would probate the sentence so that actual jail time would be six months.

Lane then noted that he takes 14 pills a day, has suffered three heart attacks and had open-heart surgery. He also noted that he has had "nine cancer operations."

"I hope to go on with life," Lane said.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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