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Armory Street cocaine dealer sentenced

GREENFIELD — An Armory Street man was sent to state prison after pleading guilty to cocaine charges.

Rion Latta, 34, of 4 Armory St., pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and was sentenced to 3 years in state prison followed by two years of probation Wednesday in Franklin Superior Court. He will be given credit for 204 days served while awaiting trial.

He was originally charged with trafficking in cocaine and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute as a subsequent offense, but the charges were scaled down as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Latta was arrested on Aug. 21, 2013, when members of the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force raided his apartment.

Police found 31 grams of cocaine in the kitchen, which Latta initially explained by saying that he had used some cocaine the night before and forgot to put it away. Later, he said “I sling a little,” which police took as an admission of drug dealing.

Police also found $13,064 in cash, as well as an additional six bags of cocaine. The money will be forfeited as proceeds of drugs sales.

Latta’s attorney, Daniel Kelly, said his client had moved to Greenfield from Springfield and began self-medicating with drugs after he was shot six times in the groin and leg during a botched robbery in Springfield in November of 2012.

To support his habit, said Kelly, Latta began selling cocaine.

“The more he used, the more he needed to make money to keep going,” said Kelly. He said Latta was last employed in 2012, before he was shot.

Court documents state that Latta has three prior drug dealing convictions from Hampden Superior Court and Springfield District Court for arrests in 1997, 2000 and 2001.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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