A Medford man who traded drugs for power tools has been sentenced to more than a year in prison.
Tommy James Loftis, 35, of the 1000 block of Cherry Street, pleaded guilty today in Jackson County Circuit Court to six counts of first-degree theft. Four cases filed against Loftis involved about $13,500 in stolen property, as well as possession of methamphetamine.
Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Bloom sentenced Loftis to 15 months in prison according to an agreement between prosecuting and defense attorneys that essentially treated Loftis as a repeat property-crime offender, although these cases were the first of their kind against him.
Meth was the focus of a March 2012 search warrant served at a Gold Hill home where Loftis lived. Officers with Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement and SWAT teams found stolen welders, drills, air compressors, chainsaws, weed trimmers and construction tools in Loftis' possession. Most of the items were returned to their owners, including some area contractors, said Jackson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz.
"It was a fairly good compromise," he said of today's plea agreement.
Charges of burglary, criminal mischief and meth possession were dismissed in exchange for Loftis' plea. Loftis declined to address the court before hearing his sentence.
While police say the exchange of stolen property for drugs is commonplace, Loftis' case lacked a key witness who died in a May 2012 traffic crash, said Markiewicz.
"We didn't have anyone to say what was going on," he said. "We just had him with this property at his house."
— Sarah Lemon
Read more in Wednesday's Mail Tribune.