The Morro Bay man convicted of acting as the “mastermind” of the largest cocaine trafficking organization in recent San Luis Obispo County history was sentenced Thursday to 18 years, eight months in state prison.
But Chase Hanson, 26, likely won’t serve anything close to that total. Because of recent sentencing reform, he could be eligible for parole in five years.
A jury found Hanson guilty of nine counts — all but one of the total he was charged with — stemming from his 2015 arrest. Prosecutors argued that he ran a sophisticated operation that relied on anonymity and a righthand man, Dane Bennett. Hanson even went to the effort of purchasing a specialty phone that cannot be wiretapped.
Despite those lengths, Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel employed extensive wiretap recordings to make her case against Hanson.
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In her arguments Thursday, Imel alleged that Hanson hasn’t let being behind bars deter him from running his organization; she said San Luis Obispo County Jail intercepted a phone call in which Hanson was recorded attempting to “give away his business” to another while he served his sentence.
San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Hugh Mullin III’s sentence fell nearly five years short of what Imel recommended, but it was more than the 15 or 16 years recommended by Hanson’s attorney, Jeffry Radding.
Radding said he was surprised at the time suggested by Imel’s office.
Though he was convicted of possession of both assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, illegal in California, Hanson receives automatic half credit for his sentence. Additionally, Deputy District Attorney Lee Cunningham said Hanson is eligible for “nonviolent early parole” due to Proposition 57, passed last November, and could be released after serving five years.
“This case is an example of one reason why Prop. 57 is bad for public safety,” Cunningham said.