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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Simi Valley

Huish Pleads Not Guilty to Drug Sales

March 16, 2000|TRACY WILSON

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Justin Huish pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of selling marijuana from his Simi Valley home.

Huish, 25, entered the plea during an arraignment in Ventura County Superior Court.

He and roommate Brian Mastrangelo, 24, turned themselves in to authorities last month after police searched their home and said they uncovered evidence of a drug sale operation.

Police reported confiscating 4.5 ounces of marijuana, 4.2 grams of hashish oil, $23,000 in cash, scales, packaging materials and ledgers. The value of the drugs was estimated by police at $2,300.

Both men are charged with one felony count of possessing marijuana with intent to sell.

Mastrangelo also faces two counts of possession of a deadly weapon for allegedly having a billy club and a martial arts weapon known as a throwing star, police said.

The outcome of the case could determine whether Huish represents the U.S. this year at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Huish won two gold medals in archery during the 1996 Games. But because of the pending drug case, he may not be allowed to leave the country to compete this year.

A preliminary hearing is set for April 4.

Huish faces up to three years in state prison if convicted of the felony charge, although prosecutors have said he could also be released on probation. Mastrangelo faces up to four years in prison.

Authorities allowed the two men to turn themselves in after charges were filed. They remain free pending the trial.

The drug case represents Huish's second encounter with the criminal justice system in recent years.

In 1993, he pleaded no contest to vandalism for spray-painting the letters "KKK" on the property of an African American couple, resulting in a penalty of three years' probation and 120 hours of community service.

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