One of 33 defendants accused in a drug trafficking investigation in White County was ordered released on bond to enter inpatient drug treatment by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe following a bond hearing on Tuesday.
Nathaniel Stipes, 28, of Judsonia, who is currently being held in the Greene County jail in Paragould, was indicted last month on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, for which he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Volpe ordered him to be released Sunday at noon to get a test for covid-19 and ordered him to report to Freedom House in Russellville by 1 p.m. Monday. After treatment, the judge told Stipes he must enter chem free living as part of his bond requirements.
Volpe told Stipes that he could remain out on pre-trial release until his case is adjudicated and if so, if found guilty, he could be allowed to self-report to the Bureau of Prisons.
"If you didn't show up for that sentence that would be a violation of federal law and expose you to up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or both," Volpe warned.
"I got just one thing to say," Stipes broke in. "I honestly and truly ain't doing anything. Ya'll done scared me straight."
"Well, the proof's going to be in the pudding, Mr. Stipes," Volpe responded. "You're going to have a tough row to hoe here in rehab. Rehab's not for the faint of heart when you have a terrible addiction but it's going to be an opportunity for you to make some life changes if you take advantage of that."
"Yes, sir," Stipes said. "I've never had that chance and I really appreciate it."
Volpe told Stipes that if he were to leave rehab or break any of the conditions of his release he could face additional complications.
"I've had lots of people who are very genuine sounding and then they get into rehab and they're like, oh this is too tough... and so they take off," Volpe said. "If that were to happen you could get revoked and you would sit in jail while you wait for your case to go to trial... and that could be several years from now."
If he were to violate the law while out on bond, Volpe said, additional penalties could apply.
"Buckle down, take rehab seriously, your life really depends on it quite honestly, okay?" Volpe said. "So this is an opportunity for you to turn in a different direction."