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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Camden County, Missouri.

Stephen Joseph Sanchez, 35, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps Jr. to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Co-defendant Jo Marie Pollina, 37, of Kansas City, Mo.  pleaded guilty to the same charge on June 30, 2020.

According to today’s plea agreement, Sanchez was arrested at a Camdenton hotel on Oct. 31, 2017. A police officer responded to a report of a man tampering with a motor vehicle in the hotel’s parking lot, and found Sanchez on the ground beside a sport utility vehicle when he arrived. Sanchez had a bag of marijuana and $8,225 in his pocket.

The officer entered the hotel and contacted Pollina, who told the officer she and Sanchez had traveled in a Dodge Dakota truck. As Pollina attempted to check out of the hotel, the officer seized the duffel bag and backpack that belonged to Sanchez. Pollina physically resisted giving the bags to the officer before he was able to wrest the bags from her. The officer was then contacted by the room attendant, who had found a glass smoking pipe in the hotel room. Pollina was placed under arrest.

The officer seized a bag of marijuana and a Taurus 9mm pistol from the truck. After obtaining a search warrant for Sanchez’s bags, the officer found a cellphone package that contained 158.4 grams of methamphetamine.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government and Sanchez jointly recommend a sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole. Sanchez must also forfeit to the government $8,225 seized by law enforcement. Under federal statutes, Pollina is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller. It was investigated by the Camdenton, Mo., Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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