Robin Gattis, the 20 year old son of state legislator Lynne Gattis, faced federal judge Ralph Biestline in court, in a sentencing hearing that stretched for hours, as a packed court-room listened to often tearful impact statements from Deborah Hurd and Dan Scott, the parents of Matt Scott, who died of a methylone overdose in April of last year. Matt Scott was the first in the state to die from using the drug. Hurd carried a picture of her son and a box containing his ashes into the courtroom.
Federal prosecutors had pushed for a twenty year sentence and a one million dollar fine. Assistant US Attorney Tom Bradley asked for the maximum, saying Robin Gattis had a lead role in a conspiracy to import methylone from China and distribute it to minors. Tom Bradley:
“I think it was a very fair sentence. In a case like this, you can never really get justice, because there is nothing the court can do to bring back Matt Scott. So, he (Judge Beistline) felt that that was enough time to punish him and deter others without it being too long. Gattis is young, and perhaps when he emerges after his sixteen year prison term, he’ll still be young enough to turn his life around.”
Gattis was arrested by state authorities in early 2012, for dealing the drug, but the case was dismissed because methylone was not illegal under state law at that time. But methylone was illegal under federal law, and Gattis continued to import the drug, catching the attention of customs officials who had tagged at least three packages shipped to Alaska to addresses of friends of Gattis. One of those friends, Shane O’Hare told the court Thursday that he received packages for Gattis at a Meadow Lakes address. Other packages were shipped to the Kenai Peninsula. When Matt Scott died, federal prosecutors stepped in. Gattis was arrested on the Kenai and charged in August, 2012 and on further investigation, a total of seven young men were charged with conspiracy and the death of Matthew Scott. All other defendents have pled guilty.
Debbie Hurd, Matt Scott’s mother, said afterwards that she had to be content with the judge’s decision
“I’m glad everybody was here for my son.. I still go back to the fact that, who does that? The day after my son dies, asks for his money back and then thanks the supplier. Right? Who does that ? And who faces off on their Facebook saying, ‘ just another day in the life of Robin Gattis’. I mean, come on, you can’t get by that fact. I think the judge was pretty good. And I liked how he said ‘ what would Matt do, what would Matt do if this happened?’ So I did think the judge was good. “
Hurd referred to an email Robin Gattis sent to his Chinese supplier the day after Matt Scott’s death, asking for his money back. Prosecutors used the email and Facebook postings Gattis had authored in their case against him. Robin Gattis told the court that he didn’t send the email, that someone who had stolen his password had done it. But there was no denying the fact that Robin Gattis did not call 911 when he realized Matt Scott was dying. Shane O’Hare told the court that Gattis had texted him as Scott went into overdose, asking what to do.
Hurd came to court supported by a group of more than a dozen young people, all friends of Matt Scott. Kyle Huntington is one of them
“It probably could have been more, but it is better than the ten [years] that what they were looking for. And then, at least he’ll have some time in there to think about what all has happened. And then it is good that they want to put him in rehabilitation and therapy and all that. “
Judge Beistline did not impose the fine prosecutors had asked for. The judge said he wanted to issue a sentence that would deter others, and send a message to young people. Robin Gattis will spend sixteen years in federal Sheraton prison in Oregon, and will recieve 500 hours of drug and alcohol counseling.
After the proceedings, Representative Lynn Gattis said that her son had a long history of defiance and family conflict. She said she and her husband had done what the could for him, including homeschooling and a stint at NorthStar Behaviorial Health Care. “We knew we had a kid that wasn’t listening” she told reporters. “There’s a whole bunch of people out there that are going through this.”