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Former councilman pleads guilty to drug trafficking

Sutton

A former Park Hills councilman appeared in St. Francois County court Friday morning for a plea hearing regarding a drug trafficking case.

Steven Sutton, 54, of Park Hills, was charged in March of 2017 with a class A felony of drug trafficking in the first degree.

At Friday's hearing, Assistant St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Kayla Womble was present on behalf of the state, and Sutton appeared with his attorney T.J. Hunsaker.

Sutton withdrew his previous not guilty plea, entering a guilty plea to one count of Class B felony drug trafficking in the first degree. The guilty plea came just before a scheduled two-day jury trial was to begin Monday.

The defense requested that Circuit Court Judge Wendy Wexler Horn sentence Sutton to probation; however, the prosecution asked for a sentence of 10 years in prison be handed down in the case.

The court will now wait for a Sentencing Assesment Report (SAR) before determining Sutton's sentence in the matter. Sutton is scheduled to appear back in Judge Horn's courtroom on March 23, at 8:30 a.m., for a formal sentencing hearing.

The former Park Hills Councilman and local businessman was charged with the crime on March 4, 2017.

According to a probable cause statement from the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff's Department, on March 3, 2017, a deputy initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 32 in Ste. Genevieve County.

Three individuals were reportedly inside the vehicle, all of whom reportedly gave the deputy permission to search the car.

During the vehicle search, the deputy found a large clear plastic baggy containing what field-tested positive for methamphetamine. Lab results later confirmed the field test results were correct.

All three individuals in the car were arrested, and officers found a large amount of meth in the vehicle, approximately 404 grams, or close to one pound.

The report states that officers also received consent to search a cell phone located in the car. Upon searching the phone, authorities discovered recorded phone conversations between one of the vehicle's occupants and Sutton.

In the telephone conversations recorded on the device, Sutton can be heard making payment arrangements as well as travel arrangements for more than 90 grams of methamphetamine. Additionally, an occupant of the vehicle positively identified Sutton as the person recorded in the phone calls.

Sutton has a prior felony criminal record. He has previously been charged with receiving stolen property, third-degree assault, and a parole violation.

Sutton was elected to represent Park Hills' Ward 1 in 2015, running unopposed. 

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com

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