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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Judge Ernie Jones described OxyContin bandit John Paul Lindeman as a good person who had been "taken over by this drug," but he still sentenced the man to five years to life in prison.
Lindeman, 37, was charged in six holdups of pharmacies in two counties, and police suspect him in three other robberies, all resulting in the taking of the painkiller OxyContin.
The crimes began in October with four in Layton, one in Ogden and one in Roy. The others, in Salt Lake City and Bountiful, remain uncharged.
Before the sentencing in 2nd District Court Wednesday, an Ogden police detective disputed a defense attorney's contention last week in Davis County that Lindeman never used a gun in the robberies, but faked it with a cell phone.
"We recovered his gun and I was there for his confession to Layton police," Detective Jim Gent said. "He admitted to using a gun in some of the robberies."
The defense said Wednesday that Lindeman had become addicted to painkillers after surgery.
Jones said he had received many letters on Lindeman's behalf from friends and family.
"They all say the same thing, that you are a good person ... but they are all appalled by what you did," Jones said.
"It's good that you have this support group and they will be there for you regardless of what sentence I decide," the judge said.
"That's what makes this a hard case because I think you are a good person. But I think you've been taken over by this drug," he said.
A judge in Davis County opted last week to delay sentencing of Lindeman on felony robbery charges there until after he was sentenced in Weber County for aggravated robbery.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)