Man gets seven years in federal prison over cocaine

Man gets seven years in federal prison over cocaine

URBANA — A California man who was toting about 4 pounds of cocaine across country when he got stopped in Champaign last September has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

Jason Wade, 28, of Ladera Heights, Calif., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Urbana in January to possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine.

Judge Michael P. McCuskey imposed the sentence Friday.

According to the facts laid out in Wade's written plea agreement, Illinois State trooper Chris Owen was at the Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign on Sept. 10 as part of a "transportation safety initiative" when he approached Wade at the back of a Greyhound bus that had arrived from St. Louis en route to Chicago.

Owen began talking to Wade and described him as "extremely nervous." The trooper asked to look at his bus ticket and found a different name on it than the name on the U.S. Virgin Islands driver's license that Wade had produced.

Owen asked Wade to get off the bus and he agreed, volunteering to let the trooper check his luggage.

The trooper asked Wade if he could pat him down to make sure he had no weapons and when the trooper did, he found objects strapped to Wade near his buttocks, hips and lower legs.

"Given the 9/11 anniversary, Trooper Owen was concerned that they might be explosives. Trooper Owen asked the defendant what it was that was strapped to his body, and the defendant responded, 'It's cocaine, man,'" the plea said.

A search of Wade found about 1,847 grams -- 65 ounces, or more than four pounds -- of cocaine in vacuum sealed bags wrapped with black tape inside his pants.

Wade told police he obtained a kilogram plus 9 to 11 ounces of cocaine from a supplier in California and was taking it to New York, where he was going to try to sell it to an individual for $29,000. He said he was to be paid $7,000 for transporting the drugs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller prosecuted Wade. He was represented by Assistant U.S. Public Defender John Taylor.

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