A man convicted of selling drugs at drug treatment meetings will likely be given probation after prosecutors found he was in failing health, according to ABC NEWS affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle.
Following a months-long sting, Michael Martin Shepard, 64, was arrested in March for allegedly selling powerful narcotics to recovering addicts.
Shepard owned and operated the non-profit Nomadian Community Resource Center in Seattle, which hosted Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. According to Seattle Police, Shepard was illegally selling Oxycodone at the center to members.
"Although he appears to have viewed himself as providing some kind of service to the community, in fact he preyed on the vulnerable by selling prescription narcotics to drug addicts, thus fueling the very disease they sought to escape," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Vaughan said in court papers, according to KOMO-TV.
Shepard eventually admitted to selling drugs, but said he only sold to "members" of the center in an effort to stay off the radar of law enforcement. In January and February of this year, Shepard sold illegal drugs to undercover law enforcement agents at least five different times, according to police.
Although distribution of Oxycodone is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, Shepard will likely be given probation due in part to his health. According to KOMO-TV, Shepard, a veteran of the Vietnam War, has spent much of his life on the street and is now barely mobile with severe heart trouble.
"But for his severe and deteriorating medical condition," Vaughan wrote according to KOMO-TV, "he would be incarcerated."
Shepard's health is so dire, he qualifies for a heart transplant, according to KOMO-TV. However a transplant would be impossible if Shepard were sent to prison.
Currently the prosecutors and the defense have agreed on a sentencing recommendation where Shepard would be sentenced to two years under house arrest and three years on probation. He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.