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4 Months Jail for Pot Distribution

As far as his family and friends are concerned, Daemon Tung is a smart person and a nice guy. But when he was sentenced Friday in Circuit Court for marijuana distribution, his past drug convictions did him in and he received jail time.

"This defendant has been before the court multiple times on drug charges and still hasn't straightened up and flown right," said Fairfax County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Tara Mooney. "The letters written [to the judge] on his behalf say he's a good kid, but maybe these people don't have the full picture the court does of what he's been up to."

SHE THEN asked Judge Stanley Klein to sentence Tung to incarceration plus probation. And in the end, Tung, 24, of 14209 Brenham Drive in Centreville's Newgate community, was sent to jail for four months.

He was convicted of two counts of distributing marijuana and, in an Oct. 27, 2004 affidavit for a search warrant to look for evidence in his home, a police detective with the department's narcotics section detailed the case against him. Centre View is not revealing his name because he works undercover.

During September, the detective learned that someone named Daemon supplied marijuana in the county. The detective then traced his address through his vehicle registration.

"On Oct. 26, while working in an undercover capacity, [I] contacted Daemon Tung to purchase one pound of marijuana for $3,800," wrote the detective.

"At approximately [4:40 p.m.] on Oct. 26, [I] met with Tung," the detective wrote. "During that meeting, Tung gave [me] a plastic bag that appeared to contain one pound of marijuana in exchange for $3,800 in Fairfax County buy funds."

The detective then signaled other officers and they arrested Tung. "A search of the vehicle that Tung was riding in resulted in the discovery of approximately five pounds of suspected marijuana with an approximate street value of $19,000," he wrote. "This amount of marijuana is consistent with major marijuana distribution."

He also noted that the suspected marijuana was field tested and reacted positive for marijuana. The next day, Oct. 27, police executed the search warrant at Tung's Centreville home and seized cash, records and documents, a scale and a metal tin containing marijuana residue.

Tung was indicted by the grand jury on May 23 and pleaded guilty as charged, June 13, in Circuit Court. He returned last Friday, Sept. 16, for sentencing, and his attorney, Dale Race, told Judge Klein that "a huge amount of community service would be a fitting punishment. [It would] drive home the message of the necessity of obeying the law and making a healthy contribution to society by making something of his life."

RACE SAID his client "damaged the community by providing marijuana to people who aren't as fortunate to have the family support and intellectual stimulus that he does." He then asked the judge to allow Tung to finish his education — he'll graduate from GMU in December with a degree in communication media design — and perform community service on weekends.

Tung then stood and addressed the court prior to sentencing. "I have responsibility for what I did, and my past convictions have traumatized me beyond my wildest imagination," he said. "I thank my family and loved ones for all their support. And I hope my mistakes don't stop me from completing my degree and achieving my career which I've worked so hard to establish.

"My parents want me to lead a respectable life, and I'm deeply remorseful and regretful for the mistakes I've made and the actions I've taken. I want to stop hurting my family, my community and myself. I throw myself on the mercy of the court, and I beg you, Your Honor, to please give me another chance to show my true, moral character."

Klein said he took everything he heard and read about Tung into consideration. "But I also [can't ignore the fact that] in 1995, when you were a juvenile, the system gave you the ultimate break. When you were convicted of distribution of a controlled substance, you were given probation and the case was dismissed.

"THEN IN 2002, as an adult, you were convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, and even that, apparently, didn't give you enough of a wake-up call. And now I have to consider the quantity of drugs and the amount of money [involved in this new offense], so there has to be punishment."

For each count of distributing marijuana, Klein sentenced Tung to three years in prison, suspending all but four months of each sentence and ordering the sentences to run concurrently. He also placed him on two years probation, plus "whatever substance-abuse testing, treatment and counseling your probation officer deems necessary."

In addition, the judge ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service. And, said Klein, "I'll order the sheriff to evaluate you for potential placement in the work-release program — which includes school, too. And I'll authorize the sheriff to [consider] placing you in the electronic-incarceration program after serving 45 days in jail, because you do need to be punished."

The judge also suspended Tung's driver's license for 12 months, but gave him a restricted license so he may drive to and from school, work, the probation office and substance-abuse programs. Afterward, outside the courtroom, Race said he was pleased with the outcome of the case.

"I think it's appropriate, and I like the idea of community service. He's a good kid, and the Tungs are a solid, hard-working family. He'll go far in life."