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A 35-year-old Springfield man was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for participating in a methamphetamine manufacturing operation.

Steven C. Powell of the 500 block of Ridgely Avenue was convicted of several meth-related crimes by a Sangamon County jury in January. He will have to serve at least 75 percent of his sentence under Illinois law.

Sangamon County sheriff ‘s deputies found a suspected meth lab in a storage locker rented by Powell when they served a search warrant on March 17, 2010.

George V. Tabor, Powell’s partner in the meth business, was arrested in October 2009 and pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of methamphetamine precursors on July 19, 2010. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Assistant state’s attorney Richard Kim, who recommended a 30-year sentence for Powell, said that, Powell “should have got a wakeup call” when Tabor was arrested.

Instead, Kim said, Powell continued to make methamphetamine until his own arrest. Kim said a member of the Illinois State Police Methamphetamine Response Team said at trial that the meth-making lab in the 2600 block of North 15th Street was the largest he had seen in the four-plus years he had been on the team.

Springfield defense attorney Jon Gray Noll asked for the minimum sentence of 15 years for his client.

He said Powell accepted responsibility in a letter to the court and that more than 8,000 grams of fluid found in the storage locker contained at the most 80 grams of meth. By itself, that would not have made Powell eligible for an extended Class X sentence, Noll said.

“We feel the state is overly aggressive in its recommendation,” Noll said. “A 15-year sentence does not deprecate the seriousness of the offense.”

Circuit Judge Pete Cavanagh agreed that 30 years was “disproportionate to the severity of the crime.”

“But you were clearly involved in a criminal enterprise of some magnitude over a period of time,” he said. “Law enforcement was aware you were involved in a criminal enterprise, and it was only a matter of time. It is more aggravating in that you didn’t seem to get the message.”

Powell was convicted of possession of methamphetamine manufacturing materials with the intent to manufacture meth; possession of methamphetamine; and participation in the manufacture of meth. Cavanagh sentenced him to 20 years on each of the participation and possession convictions. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

Sangamon County deputies received a tip in 2009 that Powell and Tabor were cooking meth in a storage locker, according to court records.

Police arranged for an informant to sell pseudoephedrine to Tabor and Powell , who was present when the sale was made, a deputy said in court records. Police on Oct. 19, 2009, allegedly found methamphetamine, syringes and enough pseudoephedrine to make nearly a half-ounce of meth in Tabor’s vehicle.

Tabor was arrested, but Powell was released when nothing illegal was found on him, according to court documents.

In early March 2010, the deputy who got the first tip received information that Powell was still making meth, according to court documents.

Powell received credit for 554 days spent in the Menard County Jail awaiting the outcome of his case.

Powell was held in Menard County because he is the son of former Sangamon County Jail administrator and current Sangamon County deputy Cole Powell.


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