Man looking at life in prison freed in plea deal

Brian Sweeney, 46, was released following a court hearing Monday around 3:30 p.m. His charges, which included five felonies ranging from Class C to Class AA and one Class A misdemeanor, could have landed him in prison for life.

Sweeney had been stopped for a window tinting violation on Feb. 16 when officers smelled marijuana from his vehicle, and police K-9 units confirmed the presence of controlled substances. Those substances turned out to be methamphetamine, enough marijuana for distribution, possession of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, and paraphernalia. He was also charged for possessing a firearm as a felon, and carrying a concealed firearm or weapon.

Sweeney’s defense attorney, Andrew Schultz, who maintains a firm in Minot, had objected to the concealed firearm charge since the beginning, arguing that the firearm was not on his actual person when it was found.

In the end, that concealed carry charge was dismissed. So were the marijuana charge and the possession of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. The Felony AA charge of methamphetamine with intent to deliver was reduced to a Class C felony when the “intent to deliver” was dropped.

This was the result of a plea deal orchestrated by Schultz and Deputy State’s Attorney Kelly Dillon, who served as the prosecutor for the case. In return for Sweeney pleading guilty to methamphetamine paraphernalia, the felon in possession of a firearm, and the reduced methamphetamine charge, he was released from jail for time served.

“I appreciate the state’s attorney’s office being willing to work with the facts on this case,” Schultz said to The Minot Daily News. “This is how the plea process is supposed to work. Plea negotiations are about compromise and we thought this was a successful compromise and we took the deal.”

Dillon had no comment.

Sweeney spent 136 days in the Ward County Jail. He will still have two years of probation, with 228 days of the full 364 days suspended. Due to his being sentenced to a total number of days less than a year, after his probation is fulfilled all his Class C felonies will be reduced to Class A misdemeanors.