|
|
|
|
The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Baskas sentenced to more than year in prison

  • A Leavenworth man who was acquitted in February of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for other charges.
    • email print
  • A Leavenworth man who was acquitted in February of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for other charges.
    John James Baskas, 28, was sentenced Friday to 14 months in prison for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and violating a drug tax stamp law.
    His attorneys had sought probation and may file an appeal.
    Baskas was convicted of the charges last month in Leavenworth County District Court. Jurors found him not guilty of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, cultivation of marijuana and another drug paraphernalia charge.
    The charges stemmed from a June 21, 2011, incident. Members of the Leavenworth Police Department were serving a search warrant at the residence where Baskas lives with his parents.
    Baskas was shot by an officer who said the defendant was pointing a gun at him.
    Baskas, who survived the injuries, did not deny having the gun. But he argued during the trial that he was trying to defend his home after awakening and hearing a commotion in the house. He testified he saw a dark figure but was blinded by a flashlight and didn't realize it was a police officer.
    During Friday's sentencing, Assistant County Attorney Michael Jones asked for consecutive prison sentences for the three charges that resulted in guilty verdicts.
    The case was considered to be what is referred to as a "border box" case, which means probation could be considered based on certain factors.
    Jones acknowledged that Baskas may be involved in drug treatment, but "this involved a case of distribution of marijuana."
    Jones said the defendant has not shown he can become a productive citizen and avoid selling marijuana in the future.
    Attorney Edward Gillette, who represents Baskas, said such a case ordinarily would result in probation.
    "Mr. Baskas has no prior criminal history," he said.
    Gillette said his client was disabled as a result of what happened and now walks with a cane.
    "I believe Mr. Baskas has been punished enough," Gillette said.
    The attorney said he doesn't believe his client will re-offend.
    When given the opportunity to speak, Baskas indicated he didn't wish to say anything.
    District Judge Gunnar Sundby said he didn't feel the circumstance supported a "border box" finding for probation.
    The judge expressed concern about a large scale operation, noting that bricks of marijuana were found in the residence as well as items such as scales and cameras set up for surveillance.
    Sundby said this is a lot more than he typically sees in marijuana distribution cases.
    The judge also expressed concern about the presence of firearms. Sundby acknowledged that Baskas had used a gun for defense. But the judge said bad things can happen when drug distribution and firearms are involved.
    Page 2 of 2 - "That is also a concern for me," he said.
    Sundby said some people may sell drugs to support their own addiction. But he believes this case involved the distribution of drugs for profit.
    Sundby also acknowledged the Kansas Department of Corrections has had a difficult time as its funding has been reduced. And he cited this as a reason for imposing only a mitigated sentence, which is less severe than what is considered the standard sentence under state sentencing guidelines.
    Sundby imposed the mitigated sentence for each of the three counts. He ordered them to run concurrent, which means Baskas will serve all three sentences at the same time.
    Baskas has been free on bond. Gillette asked for an appeal bond.
    Sundby set the appeal bond at $50,000. He ordered that Baskas surrender to authorities to begin serving his sentence April 12 unless he posts bond for an appeal.

        calendar