Iraq vet loses free home offer after drug plea

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | 3:52 p.m. CST

FORSYTH — A nonprofit that builds homes for severely injured soldiers has rescinded its offer to a Branson veteran after he was convicted of a felony drug charge.

Scott West pleaded guilty Dec. 11 to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. The charge carries a sentence of five to 15 years in prison.

West lost both legs while serving in Iraq when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb. He was slated to receive a free house from Massachusetts-based Homes for Our Troops, but lost the offer under the group's provision that veterans who commit felonies are not eligible.

"We take very seriously our obligations to our donors and volunteers," John S. Gonsalves, founder of Homes for Our Troops, told the Springfield News-Leader for a story published Tuesday. "That is why our agreements with servicemen and women include a provision that allows us to end a project if it was clear the veteran has committed a felony criminal act."

West was arrested after an Oct. 1, 2007, traffic stop in Taney County netted law officers 2.5 pounds of marijuana under the car seat, smoking pipes and digital scales.

According to the incident report, the officer who made the stop smelled marijuana coming from West's car. The officer said in the report that he remembered receiving an anonymous tip that West might be involved in illegal drugs.

The officer told West about the tip and asked if he could search the car, the report says. West agreed to the search and told the officer that he had medical marijuana under the seat. Later, he led deputies to his house, where they found drug paraphernalia.

In late December, West told the News-Leader that despite his guilty plea, the drugs found in his car weren't his and he doesn't deal drugs.

West's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 19.


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