A California man who brought cocaine, Ecstasy and marijuana worth $25,000 to a Stateline casino for a transaction that never took place was sentenced Monday to 10 years in Nevada State Prison.
District Judge Michael Gibbons told Timothy M. Hillenbrand, 24, of Citrus Heights, he could be eligible for parole in two years.
"I am giving you a chance to make it out at the earliest possible time," Gibbons said. "You can thank your attorney and your parents for giving you this chance. It could have been so much worse."
Hillenbrand and three companions came to Stateline in March to complete a drug sale to a California undercover informant.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for Hillenbrand's casino hotel room and reportedly found half a pound of cocaine, nearly eight grams of Ecstasy and 122 grams of marijuana.
He pleaded guilty to trafficking in a controlled substance.
Hillenbrand's parents and stepparents attended the sentencing.
"I want you to know this is probably the most somber day I've ever had," Timothy Hillenbrand Sr. told his son.
"You know what you've done was wrong and that you were a menace to society," he said. "I hope wherever you go, you'll ponder how you've lived the last six years."
Hillenbrand's lawyer, Tom Gregory, said his client had no prior felonies or drug convictions.
"Other than the drug business, my client is a pretty clean individual," Gregory said.
"I think the dealing came from a level of immaturity and popularity. He liked having all these friends he could get drugs for.
"I think the claim that he's a major dealer is an overstatement," Gregory said. "We're not talking about somebody living a fabulous life of jewelry and boats.
"We had somebody supplying his own addiction and 'helping' friends. We know he wasn't helping anybody. He liked the popularity."
Gregory said the quantity was large because that's what the undercover officer ordered.
Gregory said Hillenbrand didn't start out to complete the drug deal in Nevada.
He was going snowboarding and, as a courtesy to the buyer who was coming from Placerville, offered to complete the deal at Lake Tahoe.
Officials obtained a search warrant and arrested Hillenbrand before the deal took place.
"Although he doesn't have much of a criminal history, for the last few years Mr. Hillenbrand made his living off dealing drugs," said prosecutor Kris Brown. "He enjoyed the lifestyle and thought it was fun selling substantial amounts of dangerous drugs. He does deserve punishment."
In a statement Hillenbrand read to the judge, he said he got involved with drugs at age 16 to deal with anxiety attacks. He said he got mixed up with hippies and ravers.
Since he was jailed on $100,000 bail in May, Hillenbrand said he's read the entire Bible and become involved in 12-step programs.
"When I get out, I will give 100 percent to the programs available to me," he said. "I am eager to give this message to the next alcoholic or addict I meet.
"I want to learn more about my problems so I can be better in the future."
Hillenbrand also faces charges out of El Dorado County where the deal was set up.
"You happened to get arrested 50 feet across the state line," Gibbons said. "Even if you were in California, it would still be very bad. This ruins people's lives including your own."