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Press Release

Third Jefferson City Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Meth

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Jefferson City, Mo., man who led police in a pursuit that resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of methamphetamine pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a drug-trafficking conspiracy.


Michael Pearson, 33, of Jefferson City, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to the charge contained in a July 15, 2015, federal indictment. Co-defendants David Eugene Rodebaugh, 41, and Hernan Hurtado, 25, both of Jefferson City, have also pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.


By pleading guilty today, Pearson admitted that on Feb. 13, 2015, he was driving a black Acura, in which Rodebaugh was a passenger, which was under surveillance by the Drug Enforcement Administration and MUSTANG (the Mid-Missouri Unified Strike Team and Narcotics Group). Officers followed Pearson to the parking lot of the Capital Mall in Jefferson City, where they met Hurtado. After speaking with Hurtado for about 30 minutes, Pearson reached into the cab of Hurtado’s pickup truck and retrieved a plastic bag (later determined to contain methamphetamine), which he placed in the back seat of the Acura.


As the group left the parking lot, law enforcement officers attempted to stop Pearson. However, Pearson failed to stop and a pursuit ensued. The Acura left the roadway, drove down an embankment and was rendered inoperable. Pearson jumped from the Acura and fled. Rodebaugh was arrested at the scene. Pearson was later located and arrested.


Officers found a plastic bag, which contained two bundles that each contained 1,968 grams of pure methamphetamine, approximately 75 yards from where the Acura stopped. Rodebaugh admitted he threw the bag out of the vehicle’s window during the pursuit.


Later that same afternoon, Hurtado called the Jefferson City Police Department to report he had been robbed at his home in Jefferson City. Hurtado voluntarily came to the police station, where he was questioned and arrested.


Hurtado admitted that an unidentified source from Kansas City, Mo., had delivered the approximately five pounds of methamphetamine to him the evening prior to his meeting with Pearson and Rodebaugh.


Under federal statutes, Pearson, Rodebaugh and Hurtado are each subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, MUSTANG (the Mid-Missouri Unified Strike Team and Narcotics Group) and the Jefferson City, Mo., Police Department.

Updated December 27, 2016

Drug Trafficking