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But does a horrific childhood justify dealing meth???

WORCESTER — Kenneth Sparks is the victim of the most horrific child abuse that the judge here in U.S. District Court has ever encountered. Yesterday, he was sentenced to 3 years in federal prison

The Worcester resident is also a thief who became the victim of a burglary.

Until it was stolen from him, he possessed and tried to sell 5 pounds of the illegal and highly addictive methamphetamine.

And yesterday, he was sentenced to 3 years in federal prison.

The saga began when Mr. Sparks, dressed in the fatigues he wore while in the Army National Guard until his honorable discharge four months earlier, set off about May 1, 2009, to drive a van from California to Georgia. Mr. Sparks, of 4 North Ashland St., believed the van was filled with drug money and decided to steal it, thus heading to Massachusetts instead of to Georgia, as he had been instructed. What he found, when he finally stopped at a truck stop in Chicopee, was not money but five 1-pound bags of methamphetamine hidden in a fuel tank, according to FBI agent John M. Woudenberg. Undeterred, Mr. Sparks contacted Johnny McCoy, a neighbor, to find a buyer for the drugs.

Soon after Mr. McCoy inspected the booty, the drugs disappeared from the backpack in which they were stored in Mr. Sparks’ apartment. Mr. Woudenberg does not say why, but Mr. Sparks contacted him and soon Worcester police were warned that there were 5 pounds of a scourge that New England has mostly escaped on the streets.

The FBI also enlisted a cooperating witness to get the drugs back and the agency also examined the van that Mr. Sparks abandoned in Chicopee and found hidden 3 more pounds of crystal methamphetamine.

The drugs were recovered and all but one of the people charged with being part of the distribution and attempted sale of the drugs have been sentenced.

They are Johnny McCoy of 1 Goulding St., sentenced to 11 years; his brother Anthony McCoy of 69 Gage St., 10 years; Johnny McCoy’s girlfriend, Ivonne Lugo of 1436 Main St., 1 year and 1 day; and Jaime Alvarez-Ramirez, one of two men who had Mr. Sparks drive the van from California, 72 months.

By yesterday, Mr. Sparks had traded his fatigues for the orange prison scrubs he’s been wearing during the 11 months he’s been in custody. Before sentencing him, Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV recounted the horrors of Mr. Sparks’ life.

They include physical and sexual abuse, torture, and forced prostitution at age 14 — “a childhood as horrible as I have ever seen. As long as I live I will never understand how people allow this to happen to their own children.”

But the judge said that does not give him a free pass to make the bad decisions he’s made, unleashing a highly addictive “terrible, life-destroying drug” to the streets.

“But if anyone deserves mercy because of his childhood, it is Mr. Sparks,” said Judge Saylor, who noted that he is a first-time offender, and allowed a motion by defense attorney Edward P. Ryan Jr. of Fitchburg. That “safety valve” motion permitted the judge to sentence below the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David H. Hennessy asked for a sentence of 43 months, well below the sentencing guideline range of 108 to 135 months. Judge Saylor did not follow Mr. Ryan’s request for a sentence of 1 year and a day, and instead imposed 37 months in prison, plus the first 6 months of 5 years’ supervised release to be served in a community residential facility such as Coolidge House in Boston. He recommended addiction and mental health treatment while Mr. Sparks is behind bars.

Mr. Sparks tried to read a statement to Judge Saylor, but instead collapsed on the defense table, clasping his head between his arms. Mr. Ryan read the statement “accepting the responsibility for my involvement in the crime I committed.”

He said, “I’m sorry for my crime and when I do get out I’m going to get a job, a place and stay out of trouble. I will also be going to AA/NA plus therapy. I’m a good kid and I want to better myself.”

http://www.telegram.com/article/20110618/NEWS/106189950/0/business

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