Power tool defendant gets year in prison

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 Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to six counts of first-degree theft. Four cases filed against Loftis involved about $13,500 in stolen goods, as well as possession of methamphetamine.

Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Bloom sentenced Loftis to one year and three 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 resided. Officers with Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement and SWAT teams found stolen welders, drills, air compressors, chainsaws, weed trimmers and construction tools, some with serial numbers, in Loftis' possession.

Most of the items were returned to their owners, who included area contractors, said Jackson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz.

"It was a fairly good compromise," he said.

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."

A Jacksonville man with drug convictions, Casey Lee Sparks would have testified to Loftis' intent to take stolen goods for drugs, said Markiewicz. Sparks' death resulted in charges of manslaughter and driving under the influence of intoxicants against 31-year-old Central Point resident Christopher Michael Linder.

Linder is free on bail while his case is pending. Among his prior court cases are 2011 convictions for delivering methamphetamine and marijuana.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.


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