Attorney loses license after pleading guilty to marijuana charges

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | 8:25 p.m. CST; updated 9:31 a.m. CST, Wednesday, January 20, 2010

COLUMBIA — Columbia attorney Anthony Phillips, arrested in March for growing marijuana, pleaded guilty Tuesday to production of a controlled substance, a felony.

Phillips' attorney, Christopher Slusher, said the guilty plea was entered after evaluating the case because he believed the evidence against Phillips was strong enough to get a conviction. Phillips surrendered his law license in court as part of the guilty plea.

Slusher said Phillips had "no prior problems with the law at all." He is seeking treatment for marijuana abuse and doing community service, Slusher said.

In March, Columbia Police found a ventilation and hydration system and about 150 live marijuana plants behind false walls in Phillips' home.

Punishment ranges from five to 15 years for the Class B felony. Slusher said the prosecution is asking that Phillips be sentenced to eight years in prison, but he will request a suspended imposition of the sentence at the March 8 sentencing in the 13th Circuit Court.

"If he's placed on probation and successfully completes five years," he will have no record of a felony conviction, Slusher said. If probation is granted to Phillips, the judge can still sentence him to 120 days "shock time" in prison.

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