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FOUR (4) YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR HOLLISTER MAN

December 2, 2016

On Thursday, December 1, 2016, LEO V. RUAN, d/o/b 3-06-1986, of Hollister, was sentenced to four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, in three (3) different felony cases. Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson accepted guilty pleas from Ruan to the class C felony of receiving stolen property and two (2) class D felonies of resisting arrest, pursuant to plea agreements Ruan made with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office. In each case, Ruan received four (4) year prison sentences, to run concurrently with one another.

On December 30, 2015, Ruan possessed property he had stolen from Wal-Mart, of  a value totaling over $500.00. Then, on two (2) different occasions after the felony receiving stolen property case was filed, Ruan fled from law enforcement officers who were trying to arrest him.

A class C felony carries a maximum possible sentence of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine. A class D felony carries a maximum possible sentence of four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.

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HUDSON SENTENCED TO TEN (10) YEARS IN PRISON FOR STORAGE UNIT BURGLARIES

November 17, 2016

GARY E. HUDSON, d/o/b 11-11-1972, of Branson, entered guilty pleas in two (2) felony cases on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 – via video conference call – in the Circuit Court of Taney County. Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson accepted Hudson’s two (2) video guilty pleas to the charges of class C felony burglary in the second degree and sentenced him to ten (10) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections in both cases, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office. Hudson is already in the Missouri Department of Corrections serving other sentences, which prompted pleas and sentencings to be accomplished by video.

Hudson had burglarized several storage units in the summer of 2015, for which he was arrested. Since the fall of 2015, Hudson has been in custody. Rather than incur the risk and expense of transporting Hudson back to Taney County for court, video-conferencing was used. “While video-conferencing is not an option in every case, we try to use it whenever possible,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell. “It saves Taney County money each time we are able to resolve a case without transporting the defendant.”

Hudson’s sentences are to run concurrently with his other sentences. The class C felony of burglary in the second degree normally carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and a $5,000.00 fine. However, Hudson was charged by the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office as a prior and persistent felony offender, increasing his maximum possible sentence to fifteen (15) years.

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FELON WITH HANDGUN SENTENCED TO FIVE (5) YEARS IN PRISON

November 14, 2016

RICHARD CASTRO, d/o/b 3-10-1984, of Branson, pleaded guilty to the class C felony of unlawful possession of a firearm in the Circuit Court of Taney County, on Thursday, November 10, 2016. Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Castro to serve five (5) years in prison, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.

On January 3, 2015, Castro had made threats to harm himself, so – with the assistance of Castro’s family – Branson Police conducted a wellness check. When officers contacted Castro at his apartment, Castro was intoxicated and was found with a stolen Ruger handgun in his sweatshirt pocket. Branson Police officers were able to talk Castro into handing-over the handgun without harming himself – or anyone else. Because Castro is a prior convicted felon, and was on supervised probation for a felony case, he was prohibited from possessing any firearms.

In addition to Castro’s prison sentence in this case, his existing felony probation was revoked. The class C felony of unlawful possession of a firearm carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.

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EIGHT (8) YEARS IN PRISON FOR HOLLISTER MAN WITH SAWED-OFF SHOTGUN

October 13, 2016

JUSTIN DAVID LAWS, d/o/b 8-15-1985, of Hollister, was sentenced to eight (8) years in prison on Thursday, October 13, 2016, by Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson, for the class C felony of unlawful possession of a concealable firearm. Laws had entered his guilty plea on August 4, 2016, without any agreement with prosecutors as to what sentence he would receive.

On April 7, 2016, Hollister Police officers responded to a call for service at 103 Gage Drive, where Laws was found passed out behind the wheel of his automobile, parked in the Taco Bell “drive-thru” lane. Laws was found to be under the influence of drugs, and a sawed-off shotgun was in plain view on the passenger seat. Laws was identified as a convicted felon, and was charged by the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office as a prior and persistent felony offender. Laws remained in custody at the Taney County jail from the time of his arrest until his sentencing on Thursday.

In addition to the eight (8) years in prison for unlawful possession of a concealable firearm, Laws was sentenced to 180 days in jail for the class B misdemeanor of driving while intoxicated on drugs. Those sentences were ordered by the court to be served concurrently with one another. The class C felony of unlawful possession of a concealable firearm normally carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine. However, because Laws was charged as a prior and persistent felony offender, his maximum possible sentence was enhanced to fifteen (15) years in prison.

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