Alleged meth dealer now a fugitive
A man who pleaded guilty to bringing a large amount of methamphetamine into the Flathead Valley two years ago is now a fugitive from justice.
Jason Gregery Scott Cihak, 29, agreed to plead guilty to one count of criminal possession of drugs in July. The affidavit of probable cause indicated that Cihak had sold nearly a pound of meth to an agent with the Flathead County Drug Task Force in March 2016.
Cihak was orginally charged with criminal possession with the intent to distribute, which carried a possible 20-year prison sentence.
But that was negotiated down to a criminal possession charge, which could have resulted in a 5-year sentence.
In July 2018, Cihak agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge and the plea agreement stipulated that he receive a 3-year deferred sentence. He was released on his own recognizance July 19 with a drug patch.
But before Cihak could be sentenced, court documents indicate he violated the terms of his release when he tampered with the patch and failed to schedule an appointment to have it changed.
On Aug. 31, District Court Judge Dan Wilson ordered a bench warrant for Cihak’s release and set bail at $10,000.
According to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office website that lists fugitives, Cihak’s last known location was Everett, Washington. According to Snohomish County court records, Cihak is also a fugitive from their jurisdiction.
County Sheriff Chuck Curry said he knows agents that are working to put large-scale drug dealers behind bars are frustrated with some of the plea deals and sentences that are handed down.
“We’re not consulted on the plea agreements and it’s frustrating for the agents who are out there every day trying to put the larger-scale dealers behind bars,” Curry said. “Unfortunately, going to jail for a few days for these dealers is just the cost of doing business.
“It falls on the county attorney’s office to make these decisions and a lot of times we don’t agree with the deals that are made.”
Flathead County deputy attorney Allison Howard said she couln’t comment on Cihak’s case because it is still pending, but she did say that a lot of things go into how plea agreements are made and how sentences are determined.
“Each is decided on a case-by-case basis and there are many factors that we consider,” Howard said. “We can take in account if a person has shown willingness to take responsibility, if they are a first-time offender, how old the case, if witnesses are still available, if any information is available in other states.”
Curry said that when a person pleads guilty, a judge has two options - a person can be sentenced to state prison or to the Department of Corrections.
“If they are sentenced to DOC, it becomes a matter of having enough available beds. Some never see the inside of a prison. Some end up in a pre-release center.”
Howard said there are sentencing guidelines for first-time offenders that dictate potential penalties.
“There are treatment programs that some may be eligible for, but there can be backlogs on available facilities, so there’s a lot to consider on each case,′ Howard said.
Curry said he’s not pleased with how the system works.
“But we end up re-arresting so many of these people, so whatever DOC or the county attorney’s office is doing isn’t working,” Curry said.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 406-758-4441 or email@example.com.