BENTON - The drug dealer was right in his suspicion but his determination to make a drug sale apparently overrode his concerns as he will now serve 10 years in prison.
Allen Howard, 45, of Sikeston, was sentenced Wednesday in the Scott County Circuit Court to serve 10 years in the Department of Corrections on a Class A felony of a sale of a controlled substance near government housing. The sentence was handed down by Judge H.W. Winchester.
According to Scott County Prosecutor Paul Boyd, the sale occurred Nov. 25, 2003, when Howard sold crack cocaine to Sikeston Department of Public Safety detective Rick Rataj. Howard suspected that the person he was selling the crack cocaine to was Rataj.
"He asked a couple of times if the detective was in fact who he was," Boyd said. "Despite Howard's questioning, he still made the sale."
The rock of cocaine was sold to Rataj for $30. The transaction was recorded on video and prior to his plea, Howard was permitted to see the video tape of the transaction.
At the sentencing, Howard complained about his defense counsel in his case. Putting a stop to that complaint, Winchester told Howard he was fortunate he was pleading guilty and taking the 10 year sentence. The judge, who had viewed the video of the sale at Howard's prior probation revocation hearing, told Howard that as a prior drug offender, he would likely receive a much harsher sentence after a trial.
On April 26, 2002, DPS Detective John Blakely executed a search warrant at Howard's Sikeston residence, where a quantity of crack cocaine was found.
Howard was sentenced Dec. 5, 2003, by Winchester to serve seven years in prison with the sentence suspended and placed on a five-year term of probation. On Aug. 2, 2004, Winchester revoked the probation and sentenced Howard to serve the seven years in prison.
In April, Howard will face more charges when he returns to the Scott County Circuit Court. This case now pending involves a Class C felony of stealing by deceit.
According to Boyd: "It is alleged that Howard stole approximately $17,714 in Supplemental Security Income provided by the Social Security Administration from December 2003 to October 2004."
Howard was supposed to be receiving benefits based on mental retardation and disorders of the back, according to the Social Security Administration. However, during interviews with DPS Detective Flint Dees, Howard admitted he was not mentally retarded, although he told the Social Security Administration he was in order to obtain benefits.
He goes to court April 13 for a preliminary hearing on this charge.
"I expect to see a number of fraudulent SSI claim cases in the near future, given the resources that are being put toward this type of investigation," Boyd continued. "If an individual knows that their claim is false, it would serve their 'criminal' interest to get the payments stopped immediately and begin to discuss their claim with the Social Security Administration prior to an officer executing an affidavit for their arrest."