County man gets eight years for drug dealing

April 16, 2019

JEFFERSON -- A Fort Atkinson man deemed by his attorney, as well as a Jefferson County judge, to be a good man in many ways, was ordered Friday to serve five years in prison with eight years on extended supervision after being convicted on a charge of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver as a second offense and four counts of possession of a firearm as a felon.

Miguel Lira, 48, of Fort Atkinson, originally from Mexico, apologized to Jefferson County Branch IV Judge Ben Brantmeier for his illegal actions before the judge ordered him to the term in prison. Lira could have faced a maximum of 40 years in prison and a fine of $100,000 on the cocaine distribution charge alone.

A jury trial had been set for late February, but a plea agreement was reached. On Feb. 19, Lira entered pleas of guilty to the charges on which he was convicted. One count of maintaining a drug trafficking place as a second offense, four counts of possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia were read into the court record and dismissed.

The offenses were confirmed May 4, 2018, during the execution of a search warrant at Lira’s residence at 515 Lexington Blv.d in Fort Atkinson by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Drug Task Force and federal authorities from the DEA and Department of Criminal Investigation. Lira shared the home with his extended family, including his young grandchildren.

During the execution of the warrant, authorities recovered eight firearms including AK-47s, a Glock 40 handgun and a rifle with a scope. Also found were drug packaging materials, eight cellular phones and $29,511 in U.S. currency. Cocaine totaling 480 grams was found in the home. A room dedicated to the processing of cocaine for sale was located in the home’s basement.

The state, represented by Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, had recommended Lira serve five years initial confinement and eight years extended supervision.

Happ brought up the fact Lira had been convicted on two counts of felony manufacture/delivery of cocaine on April 25, 2007, and that he had put his family and neighbors in significant danger via his drug dealing and extensive gun and ammunition possession.

“The kids were put at risk every time he brought cocaine into that house,” Happ said.

She also noted Lira did not seem to be addicted to cocaine and had been able to make money by working at plants such as Tyson.

Defense attorney Christopher Lee Hartley said his client was older than the usual person who is convicted of cocaine distribution on such a large scale.

“But what makes this case very different is that he’s a really, really nice guy,” Hartley said, “and his family is a great group of people ... But people have to realize that they screwed up and that is where Mr. Lira is right now.”

Many members of Lira’s family were in the courtroom gallery for the sentencing and his daughter spoke tearfully on his behalf. She said Lira was a great man and a very good father and grandfather.

“The fact that so many family members are here speaks volumes,” Hartley said.

Brantmeier said Lira was a good person in many ways, but the public needed protection from people capable of the crimes Lira committed. He also cited other reasons behind his sentence, including punishment and deterrence.

As conditions of his extended supervision Lira must undergo Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment and follow-through with recommended treatment, then undergo any other assessment, treatment or counseling necessary. He will be subject to random drug and/or alcohol screening. He must obtain and maintain employment and/or an education program and have no possession of a controlled substance without a valid prescription. He must take any and all prescription medications only as prescribed by a treating physician and have no contact with any known drug offender except for treatment purposes or as deemed appropriate by the state. He is to pay costs, fees, assessments and surcharges including the DNA surcharge and $250 drug testing fee.