Judge sternly lectures Electric Forest attendees about drugs

November 18, 2014
27th Circuit Court Judge Terrence R. Thomas

27th Circuit Court Judge Terrence R. Thomas

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART — Five defendants, ranging in age from 19-23, stood before 27th Circuit Court Judge Terrence R. Thomas Monday morning, Nov. 17, and each of them received a stern a lecture about the drug charges they are facing.

Each defendant appeared for a pretrial stemming from drug arrests at last summer’s Electric Forest Festival in Grant Township.

“Are your parents here?” Thomas asked Aaron Alexander Moore, 19, of Charleston, W. Va. “I bet they’re delighted,” Thomas said facetiously. “No, they’re disappointed,” Moore replied.

Moore was the first EF defendant to go before the judge Monday, and he received the longest lecture, as the others were in the courtroom to hear it.

“There are more state cops down there than you can shake a stick at,” Thomas told the young defendant. “I assume you’re not going to the festival this year?” the judge asked. “No, Your Honor,” Moore replied.

Moore was facing a more serious 10-year felony of possession of MDMA (ecstasy) but pleaded to a two-year felony of possession of analogues with a recommendation for Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA).

HYTA is a “state law that allows a judge to place a youth between 17 and 20 who is alleged to have committed a crime and who has pleaded guilty to that crime to be placed in prison or on probation without a conviction to avoid a criminal record,” according to michigan.gov/corrections. “I could send you to prison for up to three years,” the judge said. “You’re going to have to behave yourself, and this will all go away. You can make your parents proud of you again.”

Stuart Andrew McMillan, Jr., 19, of Charleston, W. Va., had the same charge and plea deal as Moore. “You two were together?” Thomas asked McMillan. “Both of you are stupid enough to buy drugs down there? the judge asked. “I’ve learned my lesson, sir,” the defendant said.

“We will follow you for a year, and if you quit using drugs, you could end up without a record,” Thomas said. “Multiply this by 100 if you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

As the court clerk set his sentencing for Dec. 29, the judge said, “Merry Christmas,” to McMillan.

The third defendant to stand before the judge was Emily Michelle Putz, 23, of Rochester, NY. Putz’s age makes her ineligible for HYTA, but she pleaded to a lesser one-year misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana and was placed on a 10-month deferred sentence. She initially was facing a more serious charge of possession of ketamine. “The other stuff I told the guys equally applies to you,” Thomas said.

Putz testified that she found the drugs on the festival grounds; tested them with a drug test kit; and then began selling them. She eventually was arrested after selling the drugs to an undercover officer. “They sell test kits at these festivals, and I purchased one,” she said.

“You’re very scientific,” Thomas said.

“I didn’t want to kill anyone,” Putz said.

“You’re a smarter drug user than most,” the judge replied.

Tad Daniel Kochis, 22, of Beulah, received the same plea deal as Putz – pleading to a lesser one-year misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana and placed on a 10-month deferred sentence. Kochis was initially facing a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver MDMA. “We will defer your sentence for 10 months if you behave yourself and quit using drugs,” Thomas said.

When Thomas asked Kochis to tell him what happened, he replied, “I brought MDMA to Electric Forest.”

“Where did you get this ecstasy? Did you get it up there (Beulah)?” Thomas asked. Kochis said, “Yes.”

The last EF defendant to face the stern judge Monday was Jacob Scott Lane, 20, Woodbridge, Va. He, too, is being offered HYTA like Moore and McMillan in exchange for a plea to possession of ketamine, which is a two-year felony. He was initially facing more serious charges of possession with intent to deliver to ketamine and possession of cocaine. “I’m sure your dad is delighted to be here today,” Thomas said. “If you behave yourself, you can get out of this without a criminal record.”

“I purchased it from someone walking around the campground,” Lane testified. “I took it into the concert area, and when I started breaking into one of the bags, security saw me.” He described ketamine as a “psychedelic tranquilizer.”

Lane told the judge that he’s been attending narcotics anonymous sessions. “These rehab places are terribly overrated,” Thomas said. “You’re a slave to these substances. It’s a lifestyle that leads to a dead end The main thing is that we want you to learn something from this.”

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