A 31-year-old man who in 2017 conspired to sell drugs while on work release at the Community Corrections Center in Lincoln got 24 years and four months in federal prison Tuesday.
James Papazian, of West Hills, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in connection to a half-pound package of pure methamphetamine sent from California to Lincoln found at the downtown Old Chicago on Sept. 3, 2017.
At a plea hearing, prosecutors said Papazian was serving a state sentence on burglary and assault charges when he and Mary Kezios arranged online for her to send a package of meth to Lincoln via FedEx.
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Papazian, who was working at the restaurant at the time, arranged for another woman, Vanessa Hall, to deliver it there. But, in the meantime, his work release got pulled after law enforcement found a scale, meth residue, a cell phone and plastic bags in his work locker.
On Sept. 3, 2017, Old Chicago employees found the meth hidden under a booth after Hall came back looking for it.
In March, Hall was sentenced in state court to five years of probation for attempted intent to deliver methamphetamine after pleading no contest. A month later, Kezios got nine years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. She pleaded guilty.
Tuesday, Chief U.S. District Judge John Gerrard sentenced Papazian to the prison term, plus five years of supervised release, after determining that Papazian had obstructed justice by trying to tamper with witnesses in the case.