Pubdate: Thu, 17 Oct 2002
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2002 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Author: Patrick Malone, The Pueblo Chieftain
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


A methamphetamine manufacturer with a formerly spotless criminal history 
was sentenced on Wednesday to 180 days in jail and five years of probation.

Mark Berger, 44, of Rocky Ford, pleaded guilty in August to attempted drug 
possession and reckless driving. Charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, 
possession of the drug with intent to distribute and vehicular eluding were 
dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

District Judge James Frasher said Berger will not be given credit for 75 
days he spent in jail between his arrest on Aug. 2 and Wednesday's sentence.

Berger was accused of being the driver of a pickup that led Pueblo County 
sheriff's deputies and members of the Southern Colorado Drug Task Force on 
a wild chase as they closed in on a remote, abandoned farmhouse in eastern 
Pueblo County where Berger and co-defendant Bobby James Hays, 44, were 
suspected of operating a meth lab.

The chase on July 31 lasted 13 minutes and reached 90 mph, Pueblo County 
sheriff's Deputy Eric Medina testified during Hays' preliminary hearing in 

At the Crowley County line, Berger escaped after the truck jumped a 3-foot 
dirt berm and hit a railroad tie and a telephone pole. He was caught two 
days later. Hays, of Canon City, was apprehended at the scene of the crash.

Ingredients for methamphetamine and equipment used to produce the drug were 
found at the Boone farmhouse where the chase began.

In sentencing Berger, Frasher noted the hazard that methamphetamine 
production poses to the community.

"It is an activity that is dangerous to those that manufacture the drug and 
dangerous to the people who live in proximity to these labs," the judge 
said, also mentioning the risk to the health of police, hazardous-materials 
cleanup teams and drug users who come in contact with meth labs.

"On the other hand, Mr. Berger, your actions in this case seem to be highly 
out of character," Frasher said.

Berger's only past conviction was for a minor traffic infraction.

"The jail time in this case is the minimum sentence I would ever consider 
for this crime," even in the absence of a criminal history, Frasher said.

Hays is scheduled to enter a plea in Frasher's court today.
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