Westlake Village man pleads guilty in drug case that resulted in girl's death
Charged with distributing drugs to minors that resulted in the death of 17-year-old Victoria “Tia” Nugent in 2004, a Westlake Village man changed his plea to guilty in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.
Stephen Roman’s attorney told Judge Percy Anderson that his client’s goal in pleading guilty to the three charges was a prison sentence of 14 years. Roman, 30, was also charged with two counts of selling the drug Ecstasy to a police informant last year.
Roman could have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum of 20 years imprisonment if convicted at trial. Roman was indicted on the three charges in January.
Several times during the hearing in downtown Los Angeles, Anderson reiterated that the court will have final discretion in determining a sentence. “The court is free to exercise its discretion and can issue any sentence it deems appropriate for this offense,” Anderson told Roman. “The sentence imposed may ultimately be different from any estimate your lawyer might have given you.”
Anderson also told Roman that he would serve time in prison.
Roman will be sentenced on Aug. 3, days before the five-year anniversary of Nugent’s death.
She had gathered with a group of young people at a pool in a Thousand Oaks apartment complex on Aug. 14, 2004. One of the teens called Roman to order psilocybin mushrooms. The Westlake Village man delivered a quarter of a pound of the hallucinogens.
Nugent began acting in a bizarre manner after eating some of the mushrooms, prompting her friends to try to lock her in a room. She escaped and was struck by a car as she walked naked and disoriented along Highway 101 in Newbury Park.
Outside the courtroom, Roman’s brother, Michael Roman, extended his family’s sympathy to the girl’s family.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the Nugent family,” he said. “We believe in the justice system.”
After the hearing, Roman’s attorney, Robert Sheahen, described his client as remorseful for his actions.
“Steve was not a big time drug dealer,” Sheahen said. “But he recognizes the harm that resulted in this case, and he feels great remorse for his involvement. He will devote his life to making amends for any drug involvement he ever had.”
By Teresa Rochester (contact)
Thursday, April 9, 2009
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