MADISON – A La Crosse man who cooked methamphetamine with his two young children present was sentenced Wednesday by a federal judge to seven and a half years in prison.
Travis E. Johnson made only a half-gram of methamphetamine, but the judge said the presence of the children, ages 3 and 4, justified the lengthy sentence.
“You made methamphetamine in a small residence with small children present,” District Judge Barbara Crabb said. “The chemicals posed a significant risk to them…It’s wonderful that no one got hurt… .”
Johnson, 28, was arrested with his wife, Amber, in April 2010, soon after two men “on the radar screen” of the La Crosse police moved into the couple’s Farnam St. duplex, according to Gregory Dutch, Johnson’s attorney.
The two men, not charged in federal court, not only directed Johnson in making methamphetamine, but also gave him and Amber one-half gram of methamphetamine for each box of pseudoephedrine they provided. Johnson also received methamphetamine from each batch the men cooked in March and April 2010, Dutch wrote the court.
Johnson was charged in La Crosse County Circuit Court in December with multiple drug counts, but the charges were dismissed after he was indicted in federal court with conspiracy to make methamphetamine.
At Wednesday’s sentencing Johnson said it was “horribly selfish” to become addicted to drugs. He asked for leniency and that Amber be allowed to remain with their children after she is sentenced Friday.
Johnson faced eight to 10 years under federal advisory guidelines due to the penalty enhancer for exposing the boys, his prior drug and disorderly conduct convictions and for maintaining premises for the manufacture of a controlled substance.
Judge Crabb noted that drain cleaner, a component of methamphetamine, was found on the floor of the couple’s bedroom; toxic chemicals used to make methamphetamine were thrown in the trash where children and others could access them; and a two-liter bottle containing 10 ounces of liquid methamphetamine was recovered from the house.
However, Crabb concluded that a sentence below the guideline range was warranted because Johnson’s motivation to make and possess methamphetamine was for his own personal use and not for profit.