A Bartholomew County man could have put behind bars for as long as 60 years if convicted on two counts of dealing in cocaine.
Instead, Tiburcio Cardoso Garcia was sentenced to eight years in prison, as well as ordered to pay $3,000 restitution to police.
Garcia, 42, who was working for a local manufacturer, was the subject of a lengthy drug investigation by the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team, police said.
The investigation involved an undercover informant who paid $3,000 to obtain more than 50 grams of cocaine from Garcia in two purchases in the fall 2015, according to a probable-cause affidavit.
But his arrest did not take place until six months after the second drug deal, when Garcia was apprehended during a May 11 traffic stop near his Rolling Knoll Lane residence south of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds.
Although originally charged in Bartholomew Superior Court 1 with two Level 2 felony offenses, Garcia accepted a plea bargain Oct. 24 when he plead guilty to one count of dealing in cocaine as a Level 3 offense.
When testifying before Judge Jim Worton during his original Nov. 22 sentencing date, Garcia spoke through a Spanish interpreter to describe himself as a casual user who only sold cocaine a few times for the purpose of skimming some off the top for his own use.
In contrast, the next witness to testify — an undercover narcotics officer — described Garcia as a significant drug dealer who has long been selling large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine for profit.
After the officer said his assessment was based on information from an informant, defense attorney Chris Monroe asked Worton to have the informant identified, given a summons and take the stand in open court.
Deputy prosecutor Greg Long objected, saying such a public disclosure has the potential to endanger the lives of informants who are often assured by police they won’t have to testify.
However, Monroe insisted his client has the right to question the informant’s credibility, which prompted the judge to postpone the conclusion of the hearing until this week.
The sentence handed down to Garcia on Tuesday was half of the maximum allowable under Indiana law for a Level 3 felony.
With only one minor traffic citation on his record, the defendant’s lack of a criminal history was cited as a significant factor in determining Garcia’s sentence.