By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A South Whitley man will serve six years in prison after dealing methamphetamine to a NET43 Drug Task Force informant.
Austin Lee King, 29, 104 Eel River Manor, South Whitley, was charged with dealing methamphetamine, a level 3 felony. A methamphetamine possession charge, as well as an additional methamphetamine dealing case, were all dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
King was sentenced in Kosciusko Circuit Court on Thursday, Feb. 25.
Sometime during September 2020, the NET43 Drug Task Force was contacted by an informant saying they had agreed to purchase meth from Kyle S. Ousley, Warsaw, at a local gas station. The informant was provided with NET43 documented funds for the controlled purchase.
According to court documents, the informant met Ousley in a vehicle parked at a gas station. King was in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. The informant gave King the documented funds; Ousley then handed the informant a plastic bag containing seven grams of methamphetamine.
Ousley is facing charges and has a pretrial conference in this case in April.
On Sept. 23, 2020, a Pierceton Police officer was informed of a vehicle making a lane change without signaling. The officer found the vehicle and identified the driver as King. A K9 unit alerted to illegal drugs in King’s vehicle.
While searching the vehicle, officers found a cellphone box containing six small bags of methamphetamine that weighed a total of 18 grams.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Buehler and Defense Attorney John Barrett both agreed that King’s plea agreement for these matters was fair and reasonable.
Barrett requested Kosciusko Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed recommend King for the Recovery While Incarcerated program as part of his sentence.
“I’ve seen a great change in Austin,” said Barrett. “He thinks fairly clearly when he’s not on drugs.”
“I want RWI to get help and put this behind me,” said King.
For dealing methamphetamine, Judge Reed sentenced King to nine years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, with three years suspended on probation. He also recommended King for RWI.
King must pay $320 in restitution to NET43.
“It’s going to be up to you, but show me you’re serious and want to work at it,” said Judge Reed.