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Man pleads guilty to dealing cocaine

Courier-Times Staff Report

A Pennsylvania man who had five pounds of cocaine worth $200,000 in his vehicle following an arrest on Interstate 70 in Henry County pleaded guilty Thursday in Henry Circuit Court 1 to dealing cocaine and received a six-year suspended prison sentence, according to court records. 

Samuel Miranda, 34, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was arrested in June 2017 and charged with dealing cocaine as a Level 2 Felony, as well as possession of marijuana, a Class B Misdemeanor. 

A plea agreement was submitted on Miranda’s behalf in June. During a sentencing hearing Thursday, Miranda pleaded guilty to dealing cocaine as a Level 4 Felony, which is a lesser-included offense of dealing cocaine as a Level 2 Felony. He was sentenced to six years at the Indiana Department of Correction, but all the time was suspended in place of six years probation. During his first year of probation, Miranda was sentenced to home detention with electronic monitoring. 

Per the terms of the plea agreement, the possession of marijuana charge was dismissed. 

New Castle attorney Sean Row was appointed as a public defender to represent Miranda during the legal proceedings. 

“There were significant extenuating circumstances in that case that justified the court sentence,” Row said. “He has not been in any sort of legal trouble for 11 years prior to his arrest in that case ...”

“Based upon the fact that he had a good job and solid housing, that would justify the court sentence,” Row continued. “On behalf of Mr. Miranda, we greatly appreciate Judge (Bob) Witham’s thoughtful consideration...when you get into the facts and who the person actually is, it’s not just a name on a piece of paper...obviously the court gave him an opportunity on home monitoring and a suspended sentence.”

At the time of Miranda’s arrest, police located several hundred dollars worth of THC-infused gummy bears, vape pens and milk chocolates in the trunk of the vehicle he was driving.

The incident took place following a traffic stop initiated by Pro-Active Criminal Enforcement Team (PACE) officer Sgt. James Goodwin of the Henry County Sheriff’s Department.

Miranda, who was driving a 2017 Hyundai Sonata passenger car, was pulled over for following too closely and failure to signal a lane change near the eastbound 131-mile marker, a press release indicated.

Deputy Nick Ernstes, a PACE-team member and K9 handler with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, arrived on the scene to assist. After indications of criminal activity were observed, narcotics detection K9 Manni sniffed the vehicle and made a positive alert for a controlled substance odor, the press release said.

Police conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle and accessed a natural void compartment under the gear shift lever and located two packages weighing a total of 5.5 pounds that later tested positive as cocaine.