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A Spokane, Washington man busted in a federal marijuana sting and looking at a prison sentence figured what the hell, it couldn’t hurt to make a request. He asked to go to Disneyland.
Scott Nicholas Cassell, 29, got his wish, reports Meghann Cuniff at The Spokesman-Review.
Two weeks before a judge will likely approve a plea bargain that will land him behind bars for five years, Cassell left for Southern California over the weekend.
U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno granted a motion late last month for Cassell to travel to the Happiest Place On Earth for a week with his mother, wife and six-year-old daughter.
“What he’s doing is good for him and good for the family,” said Cassell’s lawyer, David Miller.
“His young daughter can’t be around her dad for awhile; how sad is that?” Miller said. “This will put a good memory in the memory bank.”
Cassell said the trip will “provide one great final memory for our daughter prior to my leaving,” according to court documents.
“I know this trip would mean so much to our six-year-old, and my wife would have the ability to keep a positive spin on these last few weeks at home,” Cassell said. “I promise I will return to Spokane to face whatever consequences this court deems appropriate.”
Spokane defense lawyer Mark Vovos said Magistrate Imbrogno made the decision due to her experience.
“She’s been on the bench long enough to know there’s reasons and people you have to take a chance on,” Vovos said. “It depends on your background, your criminal history, your family support and things like that.”
Imbrogno couldn’t comment, according to her assistant, Kathy Roberts, but Roberts said it’s not unusual to allow defendants some time with their families before sentencing.
Federal prosecutors objected to Cassell’s Disneyland request.
“The defendant no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence,” huffed Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Smoot, who said Cassell “should already have been behind bars” until sentencing.
Cassell’s first serious felony came in January when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. He was one of about two dozen people rounded up in February 2009 in a statewide sweep. According to court documents, he had five guns at the time of his arrest.
According to his lawyer, Cassell has undergone drug treatment and is subjected to regular drug tests.
“He’s followed everything and complied with all the court’s orders,” Miller said. “I wasn’t surprised (the trip) was approved. He’s a local person who’s lived here all his life, and it was merely the distribution of marijuana.”
Cassell, who is out of jail on $10,000 bond and is under house arrest, is allowed to leave for work.
He sentencing is scheduled for June 30 by U.S. District Judge Edward Shea. Prosecutors are recommending a prison term of 60 months.