FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fairbanks woman who had once worked as a drug counselor before being arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover officer was sentenced to a year in prison Tuesday in Superior Court.
Renee Garcia, 35, was indicted in October 2000 on six counts of third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. Last year she agreed to plead no contest to one of the counts, with the remaining counts dismissed.
Garcia's sentencing could have been much stiffer, but an 11-year-old conviction for distributing cocaine in California, for which she had received a suspended imposition of sentence, was deemed to not qualify as a prior felony.
Defense attorney Lori Bodwell said Garcia had completed school and taken a job as a drug counselor following the incident in California. She was no longer a counselor at the time of her arrest in October 2000, Bodwell said.
At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, prosecutor Scott Mattern asked for a four-year sentence with 2 1/2 years suspended, saying Garcia had been enmeshed in the drug underworld in Fairbanks and that her potential for rehabilitation is guarded.
Garcia tearfully apologized for her crimes.
''I poisoned the community I had worked so hard to help,'' she said. ''It took me 10 years to build what I had and eight months to tear it down.''
Superior Court Judge Ralph Beistline said he was ''guardedly optimistic'' about Garcia's chances for rehabilitation but that drug distributors still have to serve prison time.
''If you sell drugs, you go to jail,'' he said. ''The community can't tolerate or afford to have this continue to go on.''
Garcia was sentenced to a total of four years in prison with three of those suspended, as well as three years on probation.
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