Mills Man Gets 5-10 Years for Role in Meth Trafficking Ring
A man who admitted in March to helping distribute methamphetamine in the Casper area -- and who has since been the subject of a weeklong manhunt by local law enforcement -- was sentenced Tuesday to a term of imprisonment.
Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins sentenced Quentin Oler to serve a five- to 10-year prison term for his conviction on one count of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine. Sullins also included a recommendation for Oler to participate in the Department of Corrections' intensive treatment unit and receive other counseling for substance abuse issues.
Oler was arrested for his role in a multi-state drug trafficking ring supplied by a foreign drug cartel. Four of the higher-ups in that meth ring were prosecuted federally; Oler was charged in Natrona County District Court and pleaded guilty in March as part of a deal with prosecutors.
The Natrona County District Attorney's Office at that time agreed to recommend Oler serve a four- to six-year prison term in exchange for his guilty plea. But at Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk moved to take that sentencing agreement off the table, alleging Oler had violated the terms of the agreement.
Most plea agreements include what's known as a 'cold plea' provision, which usually states that if the defendant misses a court hearing, violates any condition of bond or violates any law, the prosecution can take the sentencing agreement off the table without the defendant having an opportunity to withdraw their guilty plea. Typically, that results in the defendant facing the maximum penalty allowed by statute at sentencing.
To back up his allegations, Schenk called Investigator Taylor Courtney of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office to the witness stand.
Courtney testified that following Oler's guilty plea in March, he ended up arresting Oler on May 31. What started as an "attempt to locate" call -- following a citizen's report of a stolen motorcycle -- led Courtney to stop the motorcycle and arrest Oler, who had been riding it with a female passenger.
Oler asked to speak with Courtney, and told him he was carrying a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine on his person. Oler told him he was carrying the meth for his female passenger, and was giving her a ride to a place where she could sell the drug. Oler also had a digital scale in his pocket.
Courtney testified that Oler also denied the motorcycle was stolen, saying the report to authorities of a stolen vehicle was the result of a disagreement over the ownership transfer.
Oler's attorney, in his cross-examination of Courtney, asked whether the May incident ended with Oler's release. Courtney said he was not sure whether Oler was released afterward, but he did say Oler was taken to the Casper office of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation after being taken into custody.
Oler was due to be sentenced less than two weeks later, on June 13, for the meth conspiracy charge. But he didn't attend that hearing, and Sullins issued a bench warrant for Oler's arrest the following day.
Knowing that Oler was wanted on an active warrant, Casper police officers tried to arrest Oler on Aug. 6. Oler took off on a motorcycle, and due to the way he was riding the motorcycle, Courtney said, officers decided not to pursue him.
The next day, Aug. 7, Courtney said a sheriff's deputy found Oler's motorcycle at a home in the 1300 block of South Fenway. The deputy used his cell phone to photograph the motorcycle and send it to the Casper Police Department, where officers confirmed it was the same motorcycle on which Oler had fled the previous day.
Courtney arrived to watch the motorcycle, assuming that Oler would return to it at some point. He assumed correctly.
Oler left the residence and put a jacket into one of the saddlebags. Having received information that Oler was armed, Courtney approached in his vehicle and pointed his gun at Oler, ordering him to give himself up.
"Courtney, don't do this," Oler replied, before getting on the bike, revving the engine and dumping the clutch.
Courtney had gotten out of his vehicle in an attempt to apprehend Oler, but Oler took off -- running over Courtney's foot and burning a hole through his shoe -- before Courtney could take him into custody.
Oler didn't get far on the motorcycle and ended up running from Courtney. As Courtney chased Oler, he testified Tuesday, Oler "bobbled" a Glock-style handgun, which fell to the ground and was later recovered by authorities.
Oler got away that day. For the next few days, he was the subject of a manhunt by both the Casper Police Department and the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, with up to 20 officers trying to find him.
Officers worked in pairs while searching for Oler, Courtney told the court, because they had received information that Oler was armed and planned to "shoot it out" with law enforcement.
Courtney testified that Oler had planned to go "Chris Eads style," before Foreman objected and Sullins agreed the remark had "no probative value."
On Aug. 11, Courtney said, authorities used information provided by a confidential informant to track Oler's cell phone and determine his location. They found him driving a stolen red pickup truck, and Oler again tried to get away.
On Collins near Three Crowns Golf Course, Courtney watched the pickup spin out and turn eastbound down Collins. The truck went off the right side of the road and into Garden Creek.
Oler tried to hide in the creek, but officers were able to surround the area and ended up using a police dog to take Oler into custody.
Following Courtney's testimony and arguments by both Schenk and Foreman -- with Foreman contesting the state's effort to invoke the cold plea provision and remove the sentencing recommendation from the plea deal -- Sullins agreed that the cold plea provision had been violated, and as such the prosecution would not be bound to recommend Oler receive a lighter sentence.
The agreement previously had called for a four- to six-year prison recommendation. But, with Oler's violations and the state's use of the cold plea provision, Schenk recommended Oler receive 10-15 years in prison.
Foreman said he still felt the four- to six-year sentence was appropriate. He also asked Sullins to impose a lighter sentence than what the state had recommended, saying a longer sentence "would be denying [Oler's two- and six-year old children] their father for quite some time."
In his statement to the court before being sentenced, Oler said he accepts "full responsibility" for his actions and apologized to his family and the community. He also suggested his crimes stemmed from post-traumatic stress disorder and asked that Sullins help him get treatment for mental issues.
Oler was due to be arraigned later Tuesday before Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey on two felony counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, and possession of methamphetamine.
If convicted of those crimes, Oler could face another 67 years in prison. Foreman, at Tuesday's sentencing hearing before Sullins, indicated that Oler would persist with not guilty pleas in the other case.