A convicted drug dealer in Monroe will not face prosecution for manufacturing and selling methamphetamine thanks to a plea deal reached last week that dismissed the case in favor of a two-year sentence for possession of meth in a separate case.
Of the two-year sentence, Eric J’Mar Smith, 33, of Monroe, could spend six months to a year in a substance abuse program.
Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Larry Jefferson imposed the two-year sentence on Smith during a June 28 hearing, according to court documents.
Assistant District Attorney Nick Anderson signed Smith’s plea document on behalf of Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew’s office.
Smith pleaded guilty to the meth possession charge based on his arrest earlier this year by an agent with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The LDWF agent arrested Smith on Jan. 19 on a handful of drug charges after observing Smith’s car had crashed in a ditch off Hwy 80 in Calhoun.
When Smith was asked to step the rear of the car, agents said they saw Smith drop a syringe and two pills on the ground, apparently determined to be Ecstasy. During a search of Smith’s car, agents found a Xanax pill as well as some meth.
The Ouachita Citizen’s review of court documents show that not only were the Ecstasy and Xanax charges dropped but Smith also benefited from the dismissal of two other drug-related cases against him.
The other cases against Smith involved a February 2018 arrest for possession of meth during an undercover operation to arrest local drug dealers as well as a September 2018 arrest for cooking meth and selling it from his home. Those two cases were each dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
When asked about the dismissal of the other two cases, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Johnson said the plea agreement included the dismissal of charges in the other two cases because Smith would serve time in prison for violating his probation on two prior felonies.
During the court hearing last week, Jefferson set Smith’s two-year sentence for possession of meth to run concurrently with other sentences served as a result of his probation violation.
According to Smith’s plea and sentencing documents, the court also recommended Smith undergo substance abuse treatment for six to 12 months at the Steve Hoyle Intensive Substance Abuse Program in Plain Dealing. Smith also will receive credit on his two-year sentence for time served.
parole hold order
As reported by The Ouachita Citizen, Jefferson previously ordered Smith’s release from prison without bond or law enforcement’s supervision.
Jefferson’s court order on May 15 directed the Sheriff’s Office to release Smith into the custody of Charles Smith Sr. so that Smith could attend his child’s graduation at a local school.
Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell appealed Jefferson’s decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport.
The Second Circuit struck down Jefferson’s order to release Smith, because the order would have required Russell —whose office oversees the parish prison — to break the law and release a suspected drug dealer without bond.
During a June 20 hearing, Jefferson defended his decision to release Smith, referring to The Ouachita Citizen’s June 19 news report about the Second Circuit’s ruling. According to Jefferson, no one from Tew’s office notified the court of Smith’s parole hold or challenged the matter.
“Nobody from the DA’s office contacted me about the parole hold,” Jefferson said. “The court would not have granted the request had I known there was a parole hold. I wouldn’t have done that.”
in motel operation
Of the two cases dismissed last week, the first involved Smith’s activity selling meth, though he was only charged with possession of meth.
In February 2018, Ouachita Parish sheriff’s deputies obtained a warrant for Smith’s arrest for possession of meth after the sheriff’s street crimes unit conducted an operation to catch local drug dealers.
During the operation, a deputy made contact with Smith across social media, and Smith agreed to bring methamphetamine to a local motel.
When Smith arrived at the motel room with meth on his person, he was taken into custody and booked on possession of the drug. He claimed the drug was only for personal use.
Smith agreed to cooperate with law enforcement by trying to bring other drug dealers to the motel to deliver drugs during the sheriff’s operation.
“Eric was successful in having one narcotics dealer deliver narcotics to the room...” stated sheriff’s deputy Tyler Dooley’s report.
Suspected meth lab
near day care center
The second of the two cases dismissed last week stemmed from Smith’s arrest in September 2018. Smith was arrested on three charges after a Monroe police investigation of possible theft led authorities to Smith’s home.
The Sept. 13, 2018 arrest report indicated Smith’s house was known to be frequently used for manufacturing and selling meth. A child day care center was located next to Smith’s home on Masonic Avenue in Monroe.
Smith’s arrest in September 2018 was made by a complainant through CrimeStoppers, a local anonymous tip line.
“The complainant stated Smith works at Firehouse Subs in Monroe,” stated Monroe police Det. Scotty Sadler’s report. “Smith drives a black Honda Accord with Texas license plates. The complainant stated that Smith sells pills and meth from his vehicle in the parking lot of his work during his shift.”
Authorities received a second tip from the complainant that Smith was “not only selling meth from his home but also (was) cooking the meth inside his kitchen.”
After arriving at Smith’s home to investigate the theft complaint, Smith told the officer he previously sold meth but had recently stopped.
Smith said there were no drugs in the house but clarified that he could not be sure because someone might have gotten inside his house without his knowledge.
When police asked for consent to search, Smith said, “Y’all might find something under the couch but that doesn’t mean that it’s mine,” according to Monroe Police Officer Anthony Cowan’s report.
One ounce of crystal meth was found in the refrigerator freezer. About 1.5 ounces of meth was found in a clear glass next to Smith’s bed. A small bag containing meth as well as a marijuana grinder were found along with several items commonly used to cook meth.
“Smith advised that a white male whose name he did not remember showed him how to make ‘fake meth,’ ” stated Cowan’s report. “Smith advised that all the suspected methamphetamine found inside was ‘fake meth.’ ”
In August 2018, authorities also received a complaint that Smith and his girlfriend, Shareka Capers, intentionally injected an unknown drug into another woman without her consent after the woman fell asleep in Smith’s vehicle.
“The victim said that Smith and his girlfriend, Shareka Capers (victim’s cousin), (were) on the driver’s side of the vehicle, she said they were laughing at her,” stated an Aug. 3, 2018 police report.
The female victim went home, feeling ill, until her husband took her to the hospital. Medical staff informed the female victim that she had been injected with cocaine and meth. Police logged the syringe as evidence. At the hospital, the victim told police that she texted Capers to ask whether the syringe contained “ice,” a street name for meth.
“The victim stated that the suspect (Capers) texted back, ‘Yes,’ ” stated the Aug. 3, 2018 police report. “The victim said on 08/01/18 the suspect (Smith) texted her, ‘Say I happen to know that if u were to just get so high that u accidentally let me taste that honeypot Shareka wouldn’t be mad.’
The victim said that she believes that the suspects were trying to drug her — put her to sleep, to possibly be sexually assaulted or raped.”
The victim failed to show up for further questioning about the matter, so the investigation into any possible crimes related to the victim was closed, though the investigation of Smith for making and selling meth continued.
In an April 5 letter to Jefferson, Smith described himself as someone who only used drugs, an apparent contrast to selling them.
“I just served 3 (and a half) years off a nine-year sentence for possession of one gram of marijuana (third offense),” Smith wrote.
“I’ll admit that I have struggled with drug addiction since I was 15-years-old, but never have I been offered any assistance with the problem. Every time I’ve been caught with a minute amount of narcotics I’ve always been fed to the wolves, placed in penitentiaries around rapists and murderers and I was only caught with personal marijuana and an anxiety pill or two.”