GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Evance Zimbalist Grandberry, accused of being the “kingpin” of a group of young drug dealers in Carbondale, was sentenced on Thursday to two years of “intensely supervised probation” by District Judge Denise Lynch, as part of a plea bargain with the 9th Judicial District attorney.
“I’m going to give you another chance,” the judge told Grandberry in court. “But it’s not going to be easy.”
She described “intense supervised probation” as a difficult regimen of standards and obligations to the probation department.
In addition to probation, Grandberry is ordered to pay more than $3,800 in fees and court costs and to perform 60 hours of “useful public service.” A jail sentence of 90 days also was imposed, but the judge suspended the jail time for now.
“You mess up, you’re going to jail,” she told Grandberry.
“Thank you, your honor,” said the clearly relieved but chastened Grandberry, 23, as he left the courtroom.
Grandberry pleaded guilty in October to one charge of attempting to sell drugs to undercover agents, after being arrested on Dec. 12, 2012, in a regional roundup of suspected drug dealers by the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT).
As a measure of the importance of his arrest, in the eyes of the drug enforcement agents, Grandberry initially was held in lieu of paying a bond of $250,000, more than any of the nearly 20 suspects arrested in the sweep.
But repeated pleas from his attorney, Kathy Goudy of Carbondale, got that bond reduced to $30,000 by late February, with the result that the defendant has not been in custody since then.
In court on Thursday, Deputy DA Scott Turner argued that Grandberry admitted to selling marijuana and ecstasy, “and his excuse was that he was set up” by others rounded up in the TRIDENT operation.
“He says it’s baloney that he’s referred to as being a kingpin,” Turner continued, countering that Grandberry was on probation from another drug case when he was arrested in December 2012.
“He doesn’t have a drug problem, I’ll give him credit for that,” Turner said, explaining that Grandberry was not known for using drugs.
So, Turner said, “He’s doing it because of greed, because of money ... putting his financial interests above the safety of the community,” and deserves to go to prison.
But Goudy maintained that Grandberry “has used this [the court case] to turn his life around.”
She said he has moved away from the area and away from the group of friends and associates he says led him astray, and away from what she said was a difficult life in Carbondale.
“He struggled, being the only black young man in Carbondale, well, except for his brother, and being half-white on top of that,” Goudy said.
She said Grandberry is living in the Denver area now, has a job where his employer is eager for Grandberry to keep working, and a girlfriend attending college.
“He is clean,” said Goudy, urging the judge to agree to a probationary sentence because “that is the step one he’s going to need in getting his head together.”
Grandberry, speaking briefly in court, told the judge, “I’m not a drug dealer, you know, I just made a stupid mistake.”
He asked Lynch for a “second chance,” adding that he is “clean, sober, I know what I want to do. I’m not a kingpin.”