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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Coeur d'Alene

2 sentenced in CdA bar cocaine case

A Coeur d'Alene man involved in a large cocaine distribution ring that was based in part out of a Sherman Avenue bar has been sentenced to four years in prison. 

Christopher McFarland, 49, (left) also is to be on probation for five years and has forfeited his ownership interest in the bar.

McFarland worked with James Roy “Slim” O'Neill, who was sentenced in April 2011 to 15 years in prison.

O'Neill's wife, Lecia Donita O'Neill, 46, (right) , also was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison, followed by ten months of home confinement and eight years of probation.

 The sentencings in U.S. District Court close a case that began with arrests in May 2010.

“Slim” O'Neill, 50, (left) was the kingpin of a cocaine distribution ring that supplied the drug in North Idaho for at least a decade and operated partly out of Chillers bar on Sherman Avenue near South 20th Street.

O'Neill also grew marijuana near Mineral Ridge, a popular hiking area with a spectacular view of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The O’Neills used proceeds from cocaine and marijuana sales to finance an expensive lifestyle, including cars, recreational vehicles and annual trips to NASCAR's Daytona 500 race in Florida.

Co-defendant Gary A. Votava was sentenced last year to two years in prison and four years probation. Stephen J. McCabe was sentenced to 18 months in prison and five years probation. Debra L. Margraff was sentenced to five months in prison and three years probation.

Manuel Rivera, who supplied cocaine to O'Neill from Kennewick, was sentenced to 108 months in prison.

“Those who bring cocaine or other illegal drugs into our communities will be brought to justice,” Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, said in a prepared statement.  “Yesterday’s sentencing marks the end of a successful investigation.  It is a victory for our communities.  I commend the cooperative law enforcement work that ended this long-lasting drug trafficking operation.”

Authorities began investigating O'Neill after finding his phone number in former school booster and imprisoned cocaine addict Jerry Carlson's phone records.. Carlson is to be released from federal prison on May 1.

Boyfriend of Resort victim ran for Idaho Senate

Check out my story here for new information on the tragic death at the Coeur d’Alene Resort last week. UPDATE: Hambrice’s blood-alcohol level was .23, police said Wednesday.

The article includes comments from a colleague of Lynea M. Sprung Hambrice at Louisiana State University.

What the article doesn’t include is more information on her boyfriend, identified by police as 38-year-old Ian E. James.

Space constraints prevented the info from making the print edition, but what we found portrays James as a real go-getter.

Newspaper archives show James, who lives in Baton Rouge with Hambrice and was in North Idaho to attend his 20th class reunion at Kellogg High School, ran for the Idaho state Senate in 1996, when he was a 25-year-old financial consultant with Metropolitan Life in Spokane.

He graduated from University of Idaho in 1994, interned for former Rep. Larry LaRocco, served as president of the UI political science student association, and was a UI students senator.

He was raised by Democrat parents in Kellogg and listed his issues as cutting government spending and increasing efficiency and combining Kootenai County’s school district into one district.

He supported a one-percent initiative, described himself as pro-business and a social moderate who favored abortion rights and a crackdown on welfare fraud.

James challenged District 2 state senator Clyde Boatright, a Republican, in the primary election and lost by a considerable margin, records show.

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