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Worthington man sentenced

James Matthew Naab

WORTHINGTON -- Even after the state argued strongly for the 48 months in prison called for by sentencing guidelines, Judge Timothy Connell stayed the prison term of James Matthew Naab on the condition he serve a year in jail and 25 years of probation.

Naab, 44, was charged in August 2008 with first-degree controlled substance possession and several lesser charges. He pleaded guilty to a felony possession charge in January.

Naab's initial charges stemmed from the arrest of another man in 2008, who alleged he had gotten methamphetamine from Naab, who was reportedly expecting to get more the following day.

Nobles County Assistant Attorney Travis Smith told Connell on Tuesday he did not believe Naab was amenable to probation or treatment, citing at least six occasions when Naab tested positive for drugs after being released on bail.

"On three separate occasions he was returned to jail for violating his conditions of release," Smith stated, adding that Naab had a relapse in October 2009 that resulted in more charges. A search of his person and residence turned up small amounts of meth, marijuana and more, a fact Smith referred to as "particularly troubling."

"Just a few days before his pre-trial (in mid-January), he tested positive for methamphetamine," Smith reminded Connell, listing the three treatment programs Naab had attended and pointing out that Naab had continued to use drugs.

"The only way for him to stay sober is to be in jail," Smith stated.

Defense attorney Dennis Rutgers did as Smith had predicted, asking Connell for a stay of imposition or execution for his client.

Rutgers said his client could be placed on up to 25 years probation, do local jail time and be subject to random testing and treatment aftercare.

"His conduct was less serious than typical," Rutgers stated, adding that the 11 grams of meth found in Naab's safe seemed to "genuinely surprise" Naab.

Rutgers referred to Naab as a victim of his own generosity because he frequently shared controlled substances with friends.

"He got a lot of people high besides himself," he stated.

Citing Naab's otherwise clean record, Rutgers said he thought a short jail sentence and a lengthy probation would help the man "return to his law abiding ways."

"Its not like he's out running around the countryside committing crimes," Rutgers said. "He suffers from an addiction - pure and simple."

Naab had been cooperative throughout the 18 month legal process, Rutgers said, and was remorseful.

"If I'm wrong, that 48 month sentence always awaits him," he added.

When asked if he had any comment, Naab stood and said he did not.

Smith added a brief statement, telling Connell that the state did not consider Naab's conduct less serious than normal.

"He is a drug dealer, no matter how small scale," he said. "He contributed to the drug use of others."

Connell was silent for several minutes, flipping through the file in front of him and reviewing the information.

"Based upon the plea of second-degree controlled substance, it is the order of this court that (Naab) be committed to the (Minnesota Department of Corrections), stayed on the condition he serve one year in the Nobles County Jail with credit for 108 days served," Connell stated.

Naab was also sentenced to 25 years of probation, a fine of $3,000 and ordered to abstain from all chemical use unless prescribed. He will be subject to random testing and searches of his person, vehicle and residence at all times.

"I believe you are amenable to probation," Connell told Naab.

The additional days in jail, Connell said, would hopefully be a way for Naab to gain sobriety, as would the 48 month sentence hanging over his head.

"The key in in your hands," Connell stated, looking directly at Naab. "If you want to go to prison, just screw this up."

Rutgers asked Connell if Naab could be subject to work release while in jail, which Smith argued against because of Naab's self-employment as a farmer.

Connell didn't make decision on the work release issue, asking instead that Rutgers put in a more specific request for him to review.