Key figure in drug ring pleads guilty

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 11:47 am

Lynnard Immenschuh, a key figure in a drug trafficking operation uncovered by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office over the past few weeks, entered a guilty plea to one felony count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance during a change-of-plea hearing on Monday.

Immenschuh initially pleaded not guilty to the charge during his arraignment on Sept. 20. Since that time, however, he has been a fountain of information for authorities in an investigation that resulted in the arrest of nine locals and one California man in connection with a marijuana trafficking ring. Jacob Schoonover, Monica Frausto, Roger Mohns, Bradley Asay, Timothy Reculusa, Raider Harriet and Joseph Heator have all been charged with felony conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance in the case. Paul Jones Jr., of California, is expected to turn himself in to authorities in the coming weeks.

Though U.S. District Court Judge William Edelman will have the final word in Immenschuh’s sentencing, the guilty plea is part of a plea agreement with the state of Wyoming. Under the agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Immenschuh be sentenced to three to seven years in prison, with all time suspended in favor of seven years’ probation. Immenschuh agreed to testify against the individuals charged in the alleged drug trafficking ring.

A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled, and Edelman said he would like to wait until Immenschuh fulfills his obligation to testify before sentencing.

Immenschuh’s charge came about after he was arrested on a bench warrant from Fremont County on Aug. 17. According to the affidavit of probable cause, Immenschuh became “non-compliant” during the arrest and “(a) deputy reportedly placed Immenschuh in a joint lock, and while doing so, the deputy could smell marijuana in Immenschuh’sbackpack.” Immenschuh reportedly denied the backpack was his, and the deputy advised him that since it was in his possession, it was his.

“After placing Immenschuh in handcuffs,” the affidavit says, “the deputy searched the backpack and found five bindles of a green leafy substance the deputy believed to be marijuana. He also found a number of empty bindles that matched the full bindle, a pipe and a small wooden box containing small, round screens commonly used for smoking marijuana. The deputy also found $120 in cash.”

During an interview with investigators on Aug. 30, Immenschuh told authorities that the marijuana in his bag when he was arrested was from Schoonover, the accused ringleader of the drug ring.

Police executed a search warrant on Immenschuh’s cell phone and downloaded the contents of the phone.

“Included in the cell phone were text messages Immenschuh had made to Jacob Schoonover” that police “believed to be related to the distribution of drugs,” according to the Schoonover affidavit of probable cause.

The Schoonover affidavit also noted that Immenschuh advised authorities that “he owed Schoonover $1,000, and he was selling marijuana for Schoonover so he wouldn’t have to pay Schoonover the $1,000.”

During Immenschuh’s change-of-plea hearing, Edelman asked Immenschuh about the marijuana that was in his bag when he was arrested, in order to lay a factual basis for his future testimony.

Immenschuh told Edelman that he believed that the amount of that marijuana was less than half an ounce. Immenschuh said he intended to smoke the marijuana or give it to his friends, and that he had received the drugs from Schoonover a week before he was arrested.

Immenschuh said in court that it was not the first time he had received marijuana from Schoonover and that he would receive marijuana from Schoonover “whenever he wanted me to sell some.” Immenschuh said he received a half-ounce to an ounce from Schoonover “two or three times” before his arrest.

Immenschuh is currently incarcerated at the Johnson County Detention Center. His attorney, Ryan Healy, asked the court to reduce Immenschuh’s $10,000 bond because he has been in jail since he was arrested in August.

Immenschuh told Edelman that neither of his parents, nor a family friend, were able to post the money. Edelman didn’t reduce the bond, but he changed the terms to allow Immenschuh to be released if he could post 10 percent of the bond, or $1,000.

Schoonover’s and Heator’s cases have been bound over to district court.

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