Shenandoah meth conspirators get several years
By Joe Beck
Two of the three defendants in what authorities describe as a "significant" methamphetamine distribution operation in Shenandoah and Page counties were sentenced to several years in prison Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Judge Michael F. Urbanski sentenced Gerald Keith Lutz, 55, of Woodstock to five years in prison and four years probation. Urbanski also sentenced Sheila Ann Payan, 48, of Stanley in Page County to two years in prison and four years probation. On a separate count, Lutz also was sentenced to additional years in prison and probation that will be served concurrently with his other prison and probation terms.
A third defendant, Jose Dolores Payan, the husband of Sheila Payan, is scheduled to be sentenced in early June.
Authorities said the defendants sold methamphetamine in Woodstock and Page County from March 2011 through March 2012. Court documents describe Jose Payan as the main source of the drugs sold in the conspiracy.
A statement of facts in the court file says Jose Payan admitted buying and selling more than 5 pounds of methamphetamine in the year leading up to his arrest.
The statement of facts also states Payan "regularly supplied Lutz and others with at least three to four ounces of methamphetamine for further distribution in Woodstock and Stanley."
Authorities found a rifle and shotgun in Lutz's home while executing a search warrant, according to court records. His sentencing included a conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A sentencing memorandum filed by Lutz's attorney, Daniel J. Travostino, said the defendant provided law enforcement with the names of 12 of his customers.
Travostino argued that his client deserved a sentence below federal guidelines.
Travostino described his client as no more than a "middleman" who joined the conspiracy "due in large part to his addiction to methamphetamine. His full cooperation with law enforcement and his life as a productive member of society and family man shows that a long period of incarceration is not necessary to protect society."
Court documents from Travostino, family members and a former employer describe him as someone who was an excellent laborer and carpenter and reliable family man after racking up several drug possession convictions involving marijuana, cocaine and PCP in his youth.
He worked more than 14 years with the Architect of the Capitol in Washington until his most recent convictions led to his firing, according to Travostino.
Payan's attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Andrea L. Harris, filed a sentencing memorandum that also cast her client as playing a lesser role in the conspiracy than her husband.
"She was not the primary source of methamphetamine in this conspiracy," Harris wrote. "In fact, there is no evidence that she distributed any methamphetamine. Rather, she picked up money owed to Jose Payan on two occasions."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org