Susanville man sentenced to state prison on drug and weapons charges

Kenneth James Owens

Kenneth James Owens, 31, of Susanville, is headed to state prison, according to a statement from the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office. And the statement also serves as a warning to others selling fentanyl in Lassen County. Owens was sentenced Jan. 17 to 4 years, 8 months in state prison after pleading guilty to charges of transporting fentanyl for the purpose of sale and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to the statement, “At the time of his plea, Owens was advised that furnishing of fentanyl is inherently dangerous to human life and that if he continues to do so and someone dies as a result of his fentanyl transaction, he can be charged with murder. Our office asks for this admonishment in every fentanyl sales case to put these defendants on notice. We also look forward to partnering with the Lassen County Sheriff and our local schools in a fentanyl lethality awareness campaign.”

As strange as it might seem, despite the danger of using it, there is not currently any special penalty for fentanyl under California law.

According to the statement, “It is treated the same as other controlled substances until the legislature sees fit to change it. Therefore, Health & Safety Code section 11352(a) provides for a sentence of 3, 4, or 5 years for transporting controlled substances, including fentanyl, for purposes of sale. Penal Code section 29800 provides for 16 months, 2, or 3 years for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

“Under California sentencing statutes, when a defendant is sentenced to consecutive terms for different crimes, the court imposes the full term and can only impose 1/3 the middle term for any other crimes. In this case, pursuant to Owens’ plea, the court imposed the 4 years for the fentanyl and 8 months (1/3 of 2 years) for the unlawful firearm possession.”