Six-time felon faces five years in prison
REXBURG – A six-time felon caught bringing methamphetamine into the Madison County Jail while returning to serve weekend time now faces up to five years in prison.
William Gene Rhodes, 50, and his court-appointed attorney, Jim Archibald, appeared before Seventh District Judge Greg Moeller on Monday. In August, Rhodes pled guilty to bringing meth into a correctional institution (the Madison County Jail) and giving it to a prisoner. Moeller sentenced Rhodes to two and a half years fixed and two and a half years indeterminate in the state prison.
Moeller noted that Rhodes was fortunate the state didn’t charge him with delivery of a controlled substance or sought a sentencing enhancement for being a persistent violator, either of which would have carried a potential life sentence. The charge Rhodes pled guilty to carries a five-year maximum sentence, which the judge imposed.
“My point is that you come before this court today to be sentenced for a crime that could have called for a life sentence, so this could have been much worse for you,” Moeller said.
Rhodes returned to the Madison County Jail to serve his sentence on weekends for a previous conviction. He complained to Moeller that another prisoner set him up when asking him to contact a drug dealer to provide the meth.
“The evidence doesn’t indicate that you were threatened with harm or danger. There really aren’t any grounds to justify or to excuse your behavior,” Moeller said.
Moeller noted the nature of Rhodes’ crimes of conspiring with a prisoner to bring drugs into the Madison County Jail to be of great concern.
“While on probation, you go to the jail, and immediately you’re making deals. That demonstrates a very high level of criminality,” the judge said.
Moeller said that Rhodes taking advantage of the privilege of serving his jail time on weekends made it difficult for other prisoners seeking the same opportunity.
“One the biggest concerns I have is that this may ruin things for other prisoners seeking the same privilege so that they can keep their jobs,” he said.
Moeller said that defendants often tell him that they have a good job and ask to serve their jail time on weekends. The judge said that now he might be more hesitant to allow such in light of Rhodes’ behavior.
The judge also pointed out that jail officials don’t like allowing prisoners to go back and forth from the jail.
“This is exactly the reason why. When a person goes intermittently back and forth between the jail, it raises a higher risk of things being brought in,” Moeller said. “They’re not only failing to help themselves, but they’re again creating all kinds of problems for law enforcement in the jail. It’s just something we can’t have any tolerance for.”
The judge said society expects inmates to spend their time in jail sobering up.
Moeller questioned why Rhodes, a convicted felon who had recently been released from prison, would think it was OK to bring meth into the jail.
“It astonishes me that you would take such risk. There may be some significant errors in your thinking that you would do such a thing — intentionally bringing a controlled substance into the Madison Jail.”
The judge noted that Rhodes had a significant criminal history that included 23 misdemeanors, five probation violations and now six felonies.
“If anyone qualifies for the definition of a ‘career criminal,’ it would be you,” he said.
Moeller noted that Rhodes was sentenced to two drug related felonies in the 1990s. In 2001, he was sentenced to fraud and in 2007 sentenced for delivery of a controlled substance. In 2012, he was charged with another drug related felony.
“All of those things support the pre-sentence investigator’s recommendations that you should be incarcerated. You have shown a clear propensity to relapse while under community supervision,” he said. “Not only do you have propensity to relapse, but the record is pretty clear that you have a propensity to violate the law in other ways.”
Moeller pointed out that Rhodes started using marijuana when he was 13 years old and meth a year later.
“I haven’t met many people who’ve used meth for 36 years. Most of them aren’t still around,” he said.
The judge noted that Rhodes had a stable childhood, but that his parents divorced when he was 15. Rhodes’ stepfather later adopted him, and Rhodes was still close to his parents. Moeller pointed out that Rhodes has two adult sons, one of whom he hadn’t seen since the boy was two years old but recently reached out to him. Moeller noted that Rhodes left high school in the 10th grade, and that he struggled with dyslexia while in school.
“That wasn’t addressed as well as it should have. I understand and fully comprehend how some of those educational deficits led to the choices you’ve made in life,” he said.
The judge reported that pre-sentencing officials stated that Rhodes was a high level risk to re-offend.
“This was not just a crime against a person, but a crime against the legal system. It’s a very serious matter. Would imprisonment be appropriate? I certainly believe it would deter other people from bringing drugs into the jail,” he said. “It’s hard to consider that you’re a ‘professional criminal’ because you’ve been caught so many times. However, you are clearly a multiple offender. Everything about this case weighs heavily in favor of a prison sentence.”
Moeller ordered that while Rhodes served his sentence in the state prison, that he be given access to substance abuse treatment. The judge also urged Rhodes to finish his high school education while in prison.
“I strongly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunities to get your GED,” the judge said.
Moeller told Rhodes that at the age of 50 years old, he was still young enough to accomplish much good in the world.
“I wish you the best of luck, sir. You are going to get another chance someday. I hope you take better advantage of it,” the judge said.