Professed ‘dope boy’ pleads to multiple drug cases and faces 20 years in prison

Thursday, January 9, 2020

CAPE GIRARDEAU — A Poplar Bluff man faces up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty last week to multiple drug distribution and weapon offenses.

Payten James O’Neil Ice was stopped by law enforcement three times in seven-month period, and found to be in possession of narcotics all three times, as well as a weapon twice.

Ice pleaded guilty to three felonies of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, as well as the felonies of distribution of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a federal drug trafficking crime before U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr., according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Hahn. Ice was 19 in September 2019, when he was indicted. A current age was not available at press time.

According to a plea agreement signed by Ice, on Sept. 19, 2018, law enforcement officers contacted him in Poplar Bluff.

Poplar Bluff Police Patrolman Dustin Barks reportedly told Ice that officers had received a call of a white male matching his description, who “was supposedly pointing a firearm at people on the street.”

While speaking with Ice, the plea agreement says, Barks saw a black backpack on the man’s back.

“Officer Barks asked Ice if there were any weapons or illegal substances in his bag,” the plea agreement further says. “Ice stated that there was not, took his bag off, opened the top and handed him the bag, giving him consent to search it.

“Ice then advised Officer Barks that there was a weapon in his bag.”

Ice reportedly further told Barks the firearm was in an outside pocket, and Barks subsequently found a Hi-Point 9mm pistol, with seven rounds in the magazine and one round chambered.

“(Barks) continued to search the bag and discovered what appeared to be hundreds of unused, 1-inch plastic Baggies that are commonly used to package narcotics,” the plea agreement says.

In response to questioning from Barks, Ice reportedly denied there were any other illegal items on his person.

“While searching Ice’s person, Officer Barks located what appeared to be two plastic Baggies of a cloudy white crystal substance, commonly associated with methamphetamine, inside Ice’s right pocket over his knee,” the plea agreement says. “He also found $206 in cash in the same pocket as the suspected methamphetamine.”

Ice reportedly later admitted to Barks he had pointed the gun at people because they began chasing him.

The substance was seized and sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime laboratory for analysis.

One of the two plastic bags containing the white powder was weighed and tested. It reportedly contained 3.08 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine.

The plea agreement says Ice admitted he knowingly possessed the found methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it to another person and to possessing the Hi-Point pistol to protect the meth and drug proceeds found by Barks.

On Dec. 26, 2018, the plea agreement says, officers with the SEMO Drug Task Force and Butler County Sheriff’s Department used a cooperating individual to conduct a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Ice.

The substance sold by Ice reportedly later was analyzed at a patrol lab and found to contain 2.80 grams of meth.

Shortly after Ice allegedly sold the meth on Dec. 26, 2018, Butler County Deputy Cody Wilson conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle occupied by Ice.

“(Then) Sgt. (James) Lewis made contact with Ice … and obtained consent to search Ice’s person,” the plea agreement further says.

During the search, Lewis reportedly found three bags of methamphetamine, as well as a set of digital scales, in the pockets of Ice’s jeans.

The substances, the plea agreement says, were analyzed at a patrol lab and found to contain a total of about 10 grams of methamphetamine.

On March 3, the plea agreement says, Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Emily Westmoreland stopped at 2008 Dodge Charger for expired license plates in Poplar Bluff.

Ice, who was the front seat passenger, reportedly was asked to get out of the vehicle.

After Ice got out, Westmoreland reportedly asked for consent to search Ice’s person.

After Ice agreed, the plea agreement says, Westmoreland found several sandwich bags; an ibuprofen container with two bags of a white, crystal-like substance, identified as meth; and a green leafy substance, identified as marijuana, on Ice’s person.

A search of Ice’s person reportedly also revealed a Bersa Thunder .380-caliber handgun in his right pants leg. The gun had a bullet in the chamber, with five bullets in the magazine. It’s serial number was defaced.

As a Poplar Bluff officer was telling Westmoreland about the ibuprofen container, Ice, who was under arrest, reportedly began yelling, “‘Hey look, I’m a dope boy. What do you expect? I’m a dope boy.’”

The plea agreement further says Ice yelled, “‘That’s dope’” as Westmoreland picked up the container.

The substance in one of the bags was analyzed at a patrol lab and found to contain 2.61 grams of methamphetamine.

With his plea, Ice admitted to possessing the meth found by Westmoreland with the intent of distributing it to another person.

After accepting Ice’s plea, Hahn said, Limbaugh set his sentencing for 2 p.m. March 31.

At that time, Ice reportedly faces up to 20 years imprisonment on each of the drug offenses, followed by no less than three years of supervised release.

Ice also faces no less than five years imprisonment on the weapons offense, followed by up to a five-year period of supervised release.

A second felony of possession of firearm in furtherance of a federal drug trafficking crime is to be dismissed by the government at sentencing.

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