Mass. man pleads guilty in large SD drug bust
PIERRE, S.D.—A Massachusetts man faces up to 15 years in prison after authorities said they found nearly half-a-ton of marijuana in his pickup truck when he was pulled over in South Dakota.
Donald McCormick, 40, of Ipswich, Mass., also could be fined $30,000 after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement after McCormick entered his plea Thursday. Sentencing is set for April 19 in Pennington County.
The charge stemmed from a Jan. 26 traffic stop on Interstate 90 east of Rapid City. Authorities said a Highway Patrol trooper's drug dog detected the bales of marijuana in the back of McCormick's truck. The drugs were under a wooden shelf that covered the pickup box, which was enclosed by a topper. Authorities also seized $1,670 in cash.
The marijuana seizure is believed to be the biggest pot bust from a traffic stop in South Dakota history, according to the patrol. The 947 pounds of pot had an estimated street value of $3.9 million.
McCormick initially faced several felony charges. Prosecutors will dismiss all but the one to which McCormick pleaded guilty under terms of a plea agreement. The attorney general's office can seek the maximum 15-year sentence under terms of the plea deal, but the final decision is up to a judge.
Defense attorney Matt Kinney told the Rapid City Journal his client never has been convicted of a felony drug charge but expects to spend time in prison.