A Merrill man will be headed back to state prison as the result of his plea and sentencing hearing in Langlade County Court last week, concluding a case where more than 45 grams of methamphetamine was found during a traffic stop.
Joshua A. Cortright, 36, Merrill, represented himself and appeared via video from the jail. He entered a no contest plea to a felony charge of second or subsequent offense possession with intent to deliver meth, with a repeat offender enhancement. Misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal damage to property, also as a repeat offender, were dismissed but read into the record.
Judge John Rhode offered a thorough set of sentencing remarks, mentioning the prison term agreed upon in the plea deal was one of the lengthiest during his time on the bench. Ultimately, Rhode elected to go along with the sentence negotiated between Cortright and the District Attorney’s Office.
That sentence sends Cortright back to the Wisconsin State Prison System for 12 years, divided into six years of initial confinement and six years of extended supervision. The term is ordered to run concurrently to any other prison sentence, and the court granted Cortright 190 days of credit for time already served.
Cortright will remain in the Langlade County jail for now, as prisoner transfers remain suspended due to the virus pandemic situation. Once those restrictions are lifted, he will be moved to a state prison.
Cortright has been in custody on a $10,000 cash bond and a probation hold since his initial appearance on Oct. 18.
District Attorney Elizabeth Gebert said the circumstances, in particular the amount of meth seized, warranted the severe sentence.
“This was the largest quantity of methamphetamine possessed by one person that I have seen in my entire career,” Gebert said. “Mr. Cortright received a lengthy prison sentence, which is both necessary and appropriate.”
The criminal complaint states that Cortright was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped after attempting to evade a patrolling squad car near the intersection of Superior Street and Forrest Avenue on the morning of Oct. 17.
A backpack was found on the floor of the passenger seat that contained three baggies of a white crystal substance that tested positive for meth, weighing a total of 45.92 grams.
The backpack also contained a digital scale and a GPS monitoring device, property of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, that had been damaged by cutting off the strap.
Cortright was the passenger nearest the backpack but denied ownership, although a prescription bottle with his name on it was also found inside.
Cortright’s most recent conviction prior to last week was for second or subsequent offense possession with intent to deliver amphetamine as a repeat offender in Lincoln County on June 17, 2019. He was initially placed on probation, but in the wake of the Langlade County charges, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after having that probation revoked.
Cortright was convicted of two counts of possession with intent to deliver amphetamine in Marathon County on Nov. 20, 2017. He was sentenced to four years of initial confinement in the Wisconsin State Prison System on those charges.
Cortright also has previous convictions in Lincoln County for possession with intent to deliver amphetamine, twice for possession of meth, and uttering a forgery.