| Huish pleads no contest in drug case
By Aron Miller, Staff writer
Olympic gold medallist Justin Huish pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges he ran a marijuana-selling business out of his Simi Valley
Huish, 26, made the plea in Ventura County Superior Court about 15 months after police arrested him. Judge Herbert Curtis III will sentence him June 13.
The one-time American hero who appeared on late-night talk shows and created a local buzz about archery pleaded no contest to one count of possession of marijuana for sale.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped one count of weapons possession and agreed to a sentence of no more than 180 days in jail. If he had gone to trial and been convicted, he could have faced three years in prison.
Neither Huish nor his attorney, Robert Sanger, commented after the proceedings. Deputy District Attorney Ron Carpenter summed up the case when he said, "Basically, they were selling marijuana."
Curtis found Huish's co-defendant, Brian Mastrangelo, 25, guilty Wednesday during a brief court trial of a misdemeanor drug possession charge and two counts of misdemeanor weapons possession. He will be sentenced May 22.
After the hearing, Carpenter said Huish was the main seller in the operation, which is why he pleaded to a felony and Mastrangelo was convicted of misdemeanors.
"It appeared Mr. Huish was more culpable than Mr. Mastrangelo," the prosecutor said.
During a preliminary hearing last year, Simi Valley police detectives testified they found 5 ounces of pot, scales, "pay/owe" sheets and $23,000 cash inside Huish's home.
One detective said the evidence showed Huish was overseeing a "large and robust" marijuana-dealing business. During that hearing, Sanger tried unsuccessfully to argue that Huish sold the drug to customers for medicinal purposes.
Before his arrest, Huish was considered a favorite to repeat his 1996 gold medal performance in archery at the 2000 games in Sydney. But his legal troubles forced him to resign from his spot on the U.S. Olympic Archery team.
He won two gold medals in 1996 and became a star for his ponytail, backwards hat, sunglasses and calm attitude under competitive pressure.
-- Aron Miller's e-mail address is email@example.com.
May 17, 2001