Plea agreement gets Kyle Thorpe three years

Published 11:24 am Friday, February 28, 2014

COURTLAND—Through a plea agreement, a Newsoms man got three years in a penitentiary for his part in a marijuana growing operation that was busted last spring.

Kyle Lee Thorpe was stoic as Judge Robert Sandwich Jr. gave his decision about punishment for four of the six charges, which included two counts of selling and distributing marijuana. Originally, Thorpe had pleaded not guilty to all charges. Just before the preliminary hearing scheduled yesterday, John “Jack” Randall, his attorney, asked the judge if a plea agreement could be submitted.

Thorpe, 29, and Joel Hedgepeth, 28, both of the 34000 block of Monroe Street, were arrested in mid-July in connection with a seizure of 99 marijuana plants discovered in late May. Hedgepeth pleaded guilty in September to four counts of selling and distributing marijuana. His pre-sentence report is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25.

After briefly reviewing testimony of Southampton County law enforcement and photos, the judge agreed that Thorpe is guilty. Two of the charges – a drug sale on or near a school or library, and possession of a gun with the intent to sell a pound or more of marijuana – were dropped.

The charges prosecuted were: conspiracy to violate the drug act (a felony); two counts of the sale and distribution of marijuana; and manufacturing marijuana.

“The plea is in my client’s best interests,” said Randall. “My client doesn’t have a record, and he comes from a good family. He has a wife…and two children… . He’s here to take responsibility and to move on with his life.”

“I apologize for my actions,” said Thorpe before sentencing. “I wasn’t raised like this.”

“I hope you are sorry,” said the judge. “You not only put yourself at risk, but also the community.”

Sandwich added that the growing operation – noting its large size – was not a harmless operation. Further, he said that it could have attracted “a lot of bad people.

“I hope this teaches you a lesson,” said the judge.

Sandwich sentenced Thorpe to a total of 25 years, but suspended 22. Added to that was a $15,000 fine as well as court costs; his driver’s license suspended for two years; and supervised probation is indefinite.

“He took responsibility, which is a good thing,” Commonwealth Attorney Eric Cooke said after Thorpe was led out of the courtroom. He praised the Sheriff’s office for its “outstanding work” in the case.

“I’m pleased with the results,” Cooke added about the judge’s sentencing. “That was not a slap on the wrist. We’ll see what he [Thorpe] does with it in the future.”