In the first of many trials on the court’s docket as a consequence of the massive drug roundups in Phelps County that began last summer, a 30-year-old Rolla man was found guilty Wednesday of selling a controlled substance to an undercover officer.


In the first of many trials on the court’s docket as a consequence of the massive drug roundups in Phelps County that began last summer, a 30-year-old Rolla man was found guilty Wednesday of selling a controlled substance to an undercover officer.


Benjamin Graham was found guilty of the Class B felony by a jury after the one-day trial in Salem. Graham was tried in a Texas County court after a request for a change of venue was made by his defense attorney, John Beger, of the Rolla law firm of Beger & Bushie LLC.


The case against Graham originated from a Grand Jury indictment after Graham was arrested for selling 40 pills of diazepam (Valium), a controlled substance, for $40 to a South Central Drug Task Force officer on June 23 at Buehler Park in Rolla.


Graham’s guilty verdict was accompanied by a recommendation from the jury that he should be sentenced to 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.


Associate Judge Douglas D. Gaston presided over the trial.


Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney Courtney George said Graham was the first of more than 200 defendants awaiting trials on charges associated with the 2009 drug roundups.


“I appreciate the hard work the Task Force officers did in order to make all of these cases,” George said. “I want the defendants who were indicted to see there are consequences for their actions.


“I will continue to work hard to put drug dealers in prison and keep them away from the citizens of Phelps County,” George said.


Defense Attorney Beger said he congratulated George on her verdict.


Appointed to the Graham case because of a conflict of interest in the Public Defender’s Office, Beger said the verdict would be appealed.


“Unfortunately, my investigation of the case showed Mr. Graham had been enticed into selling pain medicine on the pretense it was to benefit a cancer patient who had run out of medication, and the person who enticed him was a well-known methamphetamine dealer facing 26 years in prison,” Beger said. “Most of the charges against him were dropped, and he was back on the streets of Phelps County after serving less than eight months."


Unrelated to the Graham trial, Beger announced Jan. 22 he would file for candidacy seeking the Republican nomination in the August Primary for the office of the Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney.