Alan David Nixon willingly allowed his name to be used to hide the true owner of a Southern California medical marijuana operation, but his military service, age and extensive medical woes helped a federal judge find mercy at this week's sentencing hearing.
Assistant United States Attorney Christine S. Bautista recommended five months in prison followed by five months of home detention for Nixon, who admits he aided John Melvin Walker's massive, flagrant marijuana distribution scheme busted by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers.
But the 61-year-old's taxpayer-funded, private defense lawyer argued that Nixon played a minor role--receiving just $1,000 a month for falsely listing himself as owner of Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care.
The defense lawyer also noted that his client, a legal permanent resident born in England, deserved credit because in the 1970s he honorably served in the U.S. Air Force, had a clean criminal record until this offense and lives in chronic pain from a series of serious injuries.
U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna studied the arguments and concluded that, while federal sentencing guidelines called for a potential 10-month prison sentence, Nixon qualified for a break.
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Selna gave Nixon a punishment of home detention for five months, a $2,000 fine and federal supervised probation for three years.
Walker, the ring leader of the pot operation, received a whopping 262-month sentence.