A Clinton man, who 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo referred to as a “menace,” was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to a 2016 drug charge.
Jeraka Jerome Choice, 37, pleaded guilty to one charge of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Choice was arrested in July of 2016 after being caught with nearly six grams of crack cocaine.
According to jail logs, Choice was also booked into the Johnson Detention Center on Oct. 3 on a dozen drug-related charges. His criminal record dates back to 1998 and includes more than 20 convictions for a range of transgressions, including minor property crimes and domestic-violence and drug charges.
Choice’s case was first on the trial docket and was set to be called for trial had he not entered the guilty plea Monday morning.
During the sentencing, Choice’s attorney asked 8th Circuit Judge Frank Addy to “consider the fast that this is just a drug offense.” Choice’s attorney also told the court that Choice himself did not use crack, and that Choice “realizes that the true victims in this case are himself and his family.”
“I understand that you may be trying to support your family,” Addy admonished from the bench. “But you cannot support your children by poisoning other people’s children.”
After considering Choice’s lengthy criminal record, Addy handed down the sentence of 15 years in prison. The offense is considered “serious” under state law, and because it is a second or subsequent drug offense, Choice must serve a minimum of 85 percent (12 years, nine months) before being considered for parole.
Assistant Solicitor Jim Todd handled the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Josh Pittman.
“The idea that selling drugs is a victimless crime is simply not true,” Stumbo said following the sentencing. “There is a mountain of evidence that points to a direct link between drugs and violence. The citizens of Clinton can rest a little easier tonight knowing this menace to society will be spending a long time in prison.”