Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Spongebob plea fails- Neosho man sentenced to 8 years in prison
A federal judge today sentenced that sweet man to more than eight years in prison for drug trafficking, illegal possession of a firearm, and probation violation.
A possession of methamphetamine charge and a charge of using a weapon while dealing drugs were dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Harper was sentenced to 45 months in prison to be served consecutively on the two remaining felony charges and 12 months and one day for the probation violation.
Harper's attorney submitted five letters of recommendation to the judge for his client, including two from Carthage women, one from a LaRussell woman, and one from a 14-year-old girl.
The teenager described someone different from the felon described by the government in its grand jury indictment and at his detention hearing.
When I was little, Jason helped me make bacon and watched Spongebob with us. I've known Jason since he was four. He's been there for me like forever. One time when I got mad, I ran outside without a jacket and without shoes. Jason came after me and gave me his jacket and gave me a piggy back ride home.
A Carthage woman wrote that Harper had been a babysitter for her three and four-year-old children "while I slept after working all night."
She added, "I introduced him to my mom and she adores him. And for that to happen, he has to be a good person, because she doesn't like many of my friends.
" The world needs more caring people like Jason."
The LaRussell woman offered the following assessment of Harper:
Jason is a strong-willed individual who always strives to do the right thing by others. Some (of his) decisions weren't the best, (but) he always seems to learn from his mistakes and come out on top."
A Carthage grandmother wrote that Harper's biggest problem was his choice of friends:
He hangs out with old friends who always seem to get him in trouble. He has a heart of gold and would help anyone who needs anything.
The federal grand jury indictment came as a result of Harper's arrest, along with Alicia Ulloa of Arkansas July 29, 2015, at 34th and Main in Joplin.
During the arrest, which came as a result of a long-term investigation by the Jasper and Newton County sheriff's offices, the Joplin Police Department, and the Ozark Area Drug Task Force, authorities caught Harper and Ulloa with a quarter pound of methamphetamine, more than $20,000 in cash, and a stolen gun.
Earlier that month, the Newton County Sheriff's Office had arrested Harper and two others at a Joplin home and charged him with felony possession of a controlled substance.