FRESNO, Calif. (KGET) — A Bakersfield businessman who helped police sell stolen drugs was sentenced in federal court Monday to 90 months in prison.
Noel Carter was also ordered to pay $70,513 in restitution to his former employer and to forfeit $286,251 representing proceeds from his drug trafficking activity.
Carter pleaded guilty in October to conspiring with former BPD officers Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana the officers seized during the course of their work.
Carter’s attorney, Steven Leon Crawford, argued Monday his client deserved less punishment than the five years in prison the “corrupt and crooked cops” received because he was a “minor player” in the conspiracy. He said the officers pulled him into their criminal plans and Carter, a friend of Mara, wasn’t strong enough to turn them down.
Judge Lawrence O’Neill, noting Carter’s prior criminal record including embezzlement and tax evasion, said, “It doesn’t appear that pulling him over the fence was that hard.”
“He wasn’t exactly being dragged from the Vienna Boys’ Choir,” O’Neill said.
Crawford, however, maintained Carter had done good for the community, among his beneficial deeds instilling positive values in children by coaching soccer.
“He had a pretty good reputation in the community,” Crawford said. “He wasn’t all that shady.”
Crawford’s wife, daughter and stepdaughter all spoke to the judge, at times struggling through tears, about their father’s essential good character.
Lorryn Carter, Carter’s 19-year-old daughter, said the past few years have been the worst of her life. She used to talk with her father at least five times a day. Now their conversations are few and far between.
She said her father has encouraged her to do always the do the best she can and not shy away from a challenge. He attended all her soccer games in high school, and provided support in everything she did.
Noel’s Carter’s wife, Lorraine Carter, said her husband’s absence since being taken into custody “has broken me to my core.” She said she will stand by him forever, and asked the judge for leniency regarding what she called his “uncharacteristic, reckless actions.”
According to an indictment in the case, Noel Carter was given drugs by Diaz and Mara with the intent to manufacture, process and sell them for profit. This occurred from April 2012 to August 2015.
Noel Carter has admitted he failed to report the money he made from his illegal activities. He also admitted that from September 2016 to September 2017, when he was fired, he deposited and embezzled checks made out to Pacific Workplaces into his personal account.
U.S. Attorney Brian K. Delaney said Noel Carter had more than $500,000 in unreported income during a period of several years.
On a fifth-floor office of the Bank of America building in downtown Bakersfield, Noel Carter provided an “unindicted co-conspirator with an electronic key that provided the co-conspirator 24-hour access to the building … and a key to a lockable mailbox,” according to court documents.
The co-conspirator, documents said, entered the office and picked up methamphetamine that Noel Carter had left for him in envelopes in the mailbox. He then left envelopes filled with cash in exchange.
That co-conspirator gave up Noel Carter to federal authorities in exchange for not being indicted.
Delaney said Noel Carter’s criminal acitivies occurred during a long period of time. He’s part of a group that put 40 pounds of meth on the street. Any good deeds he’s done doesn’t excuse that, Delaney said.
“He sold drugs whlie holding himself up as a pillar of the community,” he said.