By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The 22-year-old Adna man who dodged a real bullet less than two months ago got a deal from prosecutors in his drug cases that subsequently arose, but will be going away for awhile.
Phillip A. Pinotti was initially charged with first-degree assault for allegedly trying to run down a security officer who chased him out of a Centralia courtroom and down to the next block where he was parked. The officer, who had been trying to take him into custody for a misdemeanor warrant, said he fired his gun once because he thought the escapee was trying to hit him.
Phillip A. Pinotti, file photo
Investigations and evaluations by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, the county prosecutor, an internal review board and the Centralia police chief since the events of Dec. 16 led to a very different understanding of what occurred.
Prosecutors concluded Pinotti wasn’t attempting to harm Centralia Municipal Court Security Officer Stephen Howard, so instead of an offense with a maximum penalty of life in prison, Pinotti was allowed to plead guilty to three misdemeanors and was sentenced to time served.
Howard resigned after the police chief released a report criticizing him for his actions and decision making.
But in the midst of the various reviews, and while Pinotti was out on bail, he was arrested and charged with drug crimes, one new and one from last summer.
Pinotti pleaded guilty to two felonies, both involving heroin, and he appeared before a judge yesterday to be sentenced in Lewis County Superior Court.
He faced a standard sentencing range for delivery of heroin of 12 to 20 months in prison.
Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher and defense attorney Don Blair both agreed to recommend to the judge that Pinotti serve 12 months and one day.
Blair told Judge Nelson Hunt his client didn’t dispute he delivered heroin, that he was a drug addict and hopefully will remain drug free.
“When he gets out, he can start getting cleaned up,” Blair said.
When asked by the judge if he wanted to make a statement on his own behalf beyond what his lawyer had shared: “No thank you, your honor,” Pinotti said. “I have nothing to add.”
Meager asked that he be given four months to be served concurrently for possession of heroin from last August.
Judge Hunt agreed with all of it, including numerous fees and court costs as well as one year of supervision after he is released.
Also yesterday morning, Zachary J. Maurer pleaded guilty in connection with the August incident.
Police had the two of them under surveillance as they went to Longview to allegedly purchase heroin and subsequently impounded their vehicle finding drugs, according to court documents.
Like Pinotti, Maurer’s charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver was lowered to a charge of possession of heroin.
Meagher said the plea deal came about in part because they couldn’t get either one to testify against the other and also because police preferred they didn’t pursue it to protect the identity of an informant.
Maurer, 25, was given a middle of the range of sentence of 18 months. Meagher said it was longer than Pinotti’s for the same offense, because Maurer had some previous convictions on his record.
For background, read “Centralia court security officer who fired upon escapee quits job” from Tuesday February 10, 2015, here