Ark. man to serve at least 3 years for trafficking pot

kterhune@idahostatesman.comJune 11, 2013 

Jeffrey Ash.

Jeffrey Boyd Ash, 54, was arrested last year after police found more than 25 pounds of marijuana in his Boise motel room.

He pleaded guilty in April to trafficking, and was sentenced Tuesday to serve up to four years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after three years.

A resident of Fayetteville, Ark., Ash is a celebrated disc golf champion who owns a company, Brainwave, known for funky tie-dyed designs on discs. In May, a message on Brainwave's Facebook page asked the disc golf community for letters of support to pass to the judge prior to Ash's sentencing.

Ash was arrested in November after the clerk at his motel called police, saying he had showed her a picture of his genitals on a cellphone. She asked that officers kick the guest out of the motel, prosecutors said.

In court Tuesday, Ash admitted that he was holding an unlit joint when he answered the door. When officers confronted him about the room smelling like marijuana, he allowed them into the room where they found the rest of the drugs in the room’s shower.

Ash had been promised $11,400 to bring the marijuana from Oregon to another state, prosecutors said.

He was originally charged with trafficking more than 25 pounds of marijuana for the 25-pound, 4-ounce haul. An April plea deal allowed him to plead guilty instead to trafficking 5 to 25 pounds in marijuana, reducing the statutory minimum sentence to three years from five.

Prosecutors asked Judge Richard Greenwood for a 10-year sentence with the possibility of parole after three years. Ash’s defense asked for the minimum sentence of three years, citing the man’s lack of criminal history and role as a single father to a 15-year-old boy.

“I need to be a father to my son, “ Ash told the judge at his sentencing. “I don’t need to be locked away in prison.”

Ash had raised his son alone after his wife’s death in 1997, he said, calling the boy the biggest victim of the crime.

He also pointed out that he had cooperated with authorities since his arrest and asserted that he did not belong in prison.

“This is not my world, my world is in Fayetteville, Arkansas,” said Ash, who has been in the Ada County Jail since his arrest.

Ash asked Greenwood for leniency at the sentencing, noting that his son would be 18 and heading off to college before his father was released, even with the state minimum.

“Before the hammer drops and my future is cast, I’m asking for mercy,” he said.

Greenwood acknowledged Ash’s request, noting that he was educated and lacked a criminal past, with friends and a son who care about him. But the judge's hands were tied concerning whether Ash would spend time in prison 1,600 miles from home, Greenwood said.

“You’ve made a giant mistake, and you’re going to pay for it,” Greenwood said. “I do, frankly, believe you when you say this is the hardest thing that’s ever happened to you, and you’d just like to put it behind you.”

The judge blamed the growing consensus that marijuana is not serious and should be legalized in part for Ash’s decision to transport the drug across several states. “It somehow leads to the idea that trafficking in illegal drugs is not a big deal,” Greenwood said.

Greenwood said he added the additional year to the state minimum to ensure that Ash followed the rules in prison. If he did, he could be paroled after three years, he said.

Ash also received credit for the 204 days he has spent in jail since his arrest.

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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