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Charleston man is sentenced to 10 years for drug charges

Thursday, January 16, 2003

CHARLESTON - A Charleston man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on drug charges.

John Lance Hart, 34, received his sentence Tuesday for attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.

Hart pled guilty to the charges Dec. 10 in front of Judge David A. Dolan in the Mississippi County Circuit Court.

The charges date back to Sept. 1 when Hart was spotted driving a car on the back roads of Mississippi County by Sheriff's Deputy Steve Dunning.

When Dunning attempted to stop the vehicle's driver for suspicion of drunk driving, Hart fled leading police on a high-speed chase through the county before crashing his car. No police or bystanders were injured.

A search of Hart's car revealed a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory.

The Mississippi County Prosecuting Attorney's Office reported they are extremely pleased with the sentence.

"This defendant endangered the lives of not only the police who were chasing him, but the community in general and showed a complete lack of respect for law enforcement," said Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Spencer during the sentencing hearing.

Hart's attorney, Public Defender Neal Frazier, asked for his client to be placed in a drug treatment program.

It was noted, however, that Hart had previously been to prison on at least three separate occasions prior to this offense and had been given numerous opportunities for treatment in the past.

"This case simply shows the dangers associated with drug use and the manufacture of methamphetamines in our community," said Spencer. "We are just fortunate that Hart did not injure or kill anyone on the night of his arrest."

Based on his criminal history and past failure on probation and parole, Hart can expect to serve at least 8 years of his 10-year sentence, according to Spencer.