Congress

Drug sentencing for Sen. Thad Cochran aide postponed again

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., right, and his wife, Kay Bowen Webber, center, arrive at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington for the sentencing hearing for his longtime aide Fred W. Pagan on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Pagan pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., right, and his wife, Kay Bowen Webber, center, arrive at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington for the sentencing hearing for his longtime aide Fred W. Pagan on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Pagan pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. AP

The sentencing of former Biloxi, Mississippi, resident Fred Pagan, a longtime aide to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, was postponed Friday by a federal judge so investigators can interview Pagan further about his knowledge of a cross-country drug ring.

Pagan, 49, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamines after investigators found more than 122 grams of the drug under his bed during an early-morning search of his Washington home last April.

Prosecutors say Pagan received eight other shipments of the drug – mostly 1-ounce packages – from a California supplier between February and April of last year.

Pagan first came onto law enforcement radar after immigration officials in Cincinnati intercepted a package from China last April.

The shipment, addressed to Pagan’s D.C. address, contained gamma-butyrolactone, known as GBL, which is used to build muscle, enhance sleep, and improve sexual and athletic performance. The drug also breaks down into the so-called “date rape” drug, Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB.

Authorities posing as deliverymen took the package to Pagan’s house and executed a search warrant that uncovered the methamphetamines.

Pagan admitted to authorities that he used both drugs, sometimes selling small quantities to friends or providing them in exchange for sexual favors.

Pagan admitted to authorities that he used both drugs, sometimes selling small quantities to friends or providing them in exchange for sexual favors.

In court Thursday, Pagan’s attorney, Kobie Flowers, said Pagan was an addict and “mere user” who should have been charged with possession of methamphetamines rather than trafficking. He said Pagan had endured “tremendous trauma and distress” trying to hide his homosexuality and drug use for years.

Flowers said authorities had used “a heavy-handed tactic” in telling Pagan during his arrest that they didn’t break the door down because they knew who he was and whom he worked for.

But U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell told Flowers on Friday that the arresting officers had done nothing wrong. “The agents did their job in an effective, civil manner,” Howell said.

In a plea deal, federal prosecutors are seeking 46 to 57 months in prison for Pagan, while Flowers wants a reduced sentence: either probation or 30 to 37 months in prison. Pagan has no prior convictions.

Cochran attended Friday’s hearing and was expected to provide a statement as a character witness asking for leniency in sentencing.

But Howell postponed the remainder of the hearing so investigators may interview Pagan more about his knowledge of the methamphetamine supply chain. No date was set. Howell had canceled Pagan’s previous sentencing hearing, scheduled for Jan. 8, for personal reasons.

After Friday’s hearing, Cochran was escorted into a waiting taxi with family members. He did not speak with reporters.

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