CAMBRIDGE — A Tennessee man was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday in Henry County Circuit Court for Class X felony cannabis trafficking.

James L. Roberts Jr., 42, of Ten Mile, Tenn., was charged with trafficking, Class X felony possession with intent to deliver and Class 1 felony possession after an August 2016 traffic stop on Interstate 80 during which 250 pounds of marijuana was found in his vehicle. He was found guilty in a May 1 jury trial.

The 12-year sentence was the mandatory minimum. According to Judge Terry Patton's sentence, Roberts will also have to pay a $750,000 street-value fine and serve three years of mandatory supervised release.

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Assistant State's Attorney Grace Simpson noted that street-value fines often were formerly reduced to judgment, meaning they were owed, but the state wouldn't routinely bring defendants to court to collect them. She said there was now a new system in which the defendants had 30 days to seek to reduce street-value fines.

Also on Tuesday, Patton denied a motion for a new trial and a motion for release on appeal bond.

In an earlier hearing, Roberts' attorney maintained that the wording of a 2004 Supreme Court opinion should have cleared him. It was held in the Supreme Court decision that "a dog sniff ... that reveals no information other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess does not violate the Fourth Amendment." He argued that there are multiple jurisdictions where there is no law against possessing marijuana. The same ruling established that drug sniffs are legal as long as they do not prolong a traffic stop.


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