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A former attorney who represented Salt Lake City and its police department for more than a decade will spend 120 days in jail for a clandestine drug operation, which prosecutors now acknowledge was run by his sons.
Police found the makeshift lab behind a locked door in the Sugar House home of James Wesley Robinson, 51, nearly a year ago after responding to a burglary call. Robinson and his sons Alexander Jordan Robinson, 22, and Zachary Ryan Robinson, 19 were then arrested and charged with making the marijuana byproduct called "Dab" or "Shatter."
But on Friday, a Salt Lake County prosecutor told 3rd District Judge James Blanch there was "no evidence the defendant was in there cooking," and that he essentially "pleaded guilty to save his sons."
In December, James Robinson pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree felony operation of a clandestine lab, second-degree felony drug possession and third-degree felony possession of a firearm by a restricted person.
"I wasn't aware of what was happening in my house," Robinson told Blanch on Friday. "I take full responsibility for not being a better parent."
A skeptical Blanch said it seemed "implausible" that Robinson, had no idea what was going on in the home.
"I do feel jail time is appropriate," said Blanch, who said Robinson had squandered his 20-year legal career.
Blanch ordered Robinson to the maximum prison terms of one to 15 years and zero to five years on the second- and third-degree felonies, but suspended the terms. Robinson's jail term is a condition of the 36 months of probation which Blanch also imposed.
Robinson's plea agreement also guaranteed he won't face a federal criminal indictment related to drug manufacturing or drug and firearms possession,
The Robinson sons were also sent to jail on Friday each for terms of 60 days. As in their father's case, the punishment was imposed as a condition of probation and the maximum prison terms were ordered, but suspended by Blanch.
The brothers both pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree felony operation of a clandestine lab and third-degree felony drug possession with intent to distribute alongside their father in December.
If they successfully complete probation, the charges could be reduced to misdemeanors. If they stay out of trouble for five years, both could petition the court to have their records expunged.
Prosecutors pegged Zachary Robinson as the primary actor in running the lab Friday, something he told Blanch he was sorry to have done. The Salt Lake Community College student also said he had been unaware of the dangers associated with the lab and that he felt bad for putting others at risk.
"I stand before you a changed man," Zachary Robinson told the court. "I would love a chance to prove to you and to the community that I am not a bad person."
Last year, officers executing a Feb. 18 search warrant at the home found several pounds of marijuana, dozens of bongs, grinders, pipes, rolling papers, scales and $26,230 in cash, court papers say. In the basement, police found a pressure cooker with Dab in the bottom, as well as glass tubes, a butane torch and numerous cans of butane.
Court papers also say police found guns, bags filled with more than 2½ pounds of marijuana, a temperature controller commonly used in pot cultivation and a box containing "grow lights."
Marijuana, marijuana pipes, Dab and $6,900 in cash were found in Zachary Robinson's bedroom, according to the documents.
Alexander Robinson's bedroom contained marijuana pipes, bongs, Dab, a scale, a vacuum sealer and $2,500 in cash.
Officers also found a 9mm handgun and a vial containing a white substance that field-tested positive for cocaine in their father's bedroom.
James Robinson was fired last Feb. 24 from his job as a city attorney who handled civil litigation.