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Last Pozo defendant's charges reduced 

Just more than a week before she was set to go to trial contesting a felony charge stemming from April’s notorious Pozo Saloon undercover drug operation, the last remaining defendant accepted a reduced charge from the District Attorney’s office.

Amber Carter, 26, of Santa Maria, was facing a felony charge of selling a controlled substance—four pills of prescription Vicodin—to an undercover officer. Her attorney, Matthew Guerrero, said prosecutor Eric Dobroth contacted him with an offer of a plea agreement. Guerrero said Carter offered to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor charge of possessing the drug without a prescription.

Even though Carter actually possessed a prescription for the Vicodin at the time of her arrest, Guerrero said she would accept the reduced charge in order to avoid trial and a possible felony on her record.

Carter was one of eight individuals arrested at the “420 Festival” outdoor reggae concert. Charges against her codefendant in the case, Christopher Costley, also 26, of Santa Maria, were dismissed in July. Of the eight arrested, only one felony drug conviction arose out of the operation, and the rest were either reduced to misdemeanor possession or dismissed.

In an informational hearing in June, one of the two undercover officers who allegedly bought Vicodin from Carter testified in court that he and his partner approached Carter and her friends outside of the Pozo Saloon after the concert and solicited marijuana. The officers followed the group to their car and, after failing to obtain marijuana from them, asked if there was anything else they could buy. After Carter allegedly offered the four pills to officer Brian Amoroso, she accepted $20 from him and was immediately arrested.

Carter told New Times she never intended to sell anything to the officer, but that she felt intimidated and wanted him to leave.

“It was disappointing that [the DA] decided to file the charge this way,” Guerrero said. “I think it’s pretty obvious she’s not a drug dealer.”

Under terms of the plea, Guerrero said Carter would be eligible for a 13-week drug deferment program to have the conviction stricken from her record.

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