By Polly Keary, Editor
A Monroe man arrested last spring during a multi-state drug trafficking sting has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Christopher Frick, 38, had only a peripheral connection to the organization, but his extensive criminal history contributed to the lengthy sentence in federal prison.
About 35 people, mostly Hispanic, were named in the original indictment, which included crimes such as gun-running between Texas, Arizona and Washington. Among the weapons named was a grenade launcher that police believed was intended for use in conflicts with other traffickers.
According to the indictment, the conspirators were guilty of sales of a lot of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Frick was indicted for counterfeiting and for selling meth. His was the only Monroe arrest.
He eventually pleaded guilty to selling meth, buying it by the ounce from people involved in the Berrelleza drug trafficking organization in Everett and reselling it locally.
He also was said to have bleached the faces off $5 bills, then printing images of $50 bills over them, some of which he successfully passed locally.
Frick was no stranger to legal trouble. He has 31 previous convictions, including one federal felony conviction. Most are for driving offenses, but others, including felonies, are for burglary, escape, drug possession, theft including vehicle theft, forgery and fraud. His longest previous sentence had been four years and three months.
When released, he had a tendency to violate his terms of release, and was sent back to incarceration a number of times for it.
He, in fact, was getting fitted for an ankle bracelet with a bail bondsman on another charge when federal agents picked up his voice, making arrangements to buy four ounces of meth.
While the federal agents were probing the drug ring, the Secret Service was in the middle of an unrelated investigation into Frick’s counterfeiting activity.
When Frick’s house on Short Columbia Street was raided, police found a small amount of meth, some syringes, marijuana (then illegal) and a scale, as well as a counterfeit $100 bill in a bedroom occupied by a roommate, who said it was Frick’s.
Ultimately, Frick pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams (about two ounces) of methamphetamine and one charge of counterfeiting. He admitted to selling four ounces of meth and making two fake $50 bills that he tried to pass at Monroe stores.
Due to his extensive record, under sentencing guidelines, he fell into the 140-175 month advisory range. Prosecution and defense, however, agreed that the appropriate sentence for him was between eight and 10 years, as he had a small role in the conspiracy.
One of the things the defense asked the judge to consider was Frick’s early years.
Removed from drug-addicted parents and placed into state foster care at the age of three, by the time he turned 18 he’d been in 27 different foster homes. When Frick was arrested, he was involved in a pending lawsuit against the state for what his attorney called “years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse in various foster home placements during his formative years.”
He has attempted suicide a number of times due to chronic depression, his attorneys noted, and he first was exposed to meth at 10, while in a foster home.
Frick himself said in a statement of personal responsibility that he didn’t consider his upbringing an excuse for his behavior, but his attorneys said that it was still appropriate to consider it as a mitigating factor for his long criminal history and conduct.
Frick is known to the Monroe Monitor, because upon the publication of the first report of the murder of Monroe resident Jacque Rothenbuhler last March, he called the paper to correct what he said were errors in the story.
He ended up hosting a gathering of Rothenbuhler’s friends at his Short Columbia Street home, where the group shared memories of the slain woman with the newspaper.
He was a small, dark-haired man who said little during the meeting.
Judge Robert Lasnik chose a sentence between the eight years the defense suggested and the 10 years the prosecution sought, and imposed a nine-year sentence on Frick. He also recommended that Frick be allowed to take RDAP, an intensive year-long drug abuse prevention course that can earn an inmate a year off his or her sentence, although it usually only results in a reduction of three or four months. He will be on probation for five years after his release.