Major meth conviction

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Maximum term for Fickes is 120 years

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A Vandalia man faces a prison sentence of up to 120 years after being convicted of four methamphetamine offenses last week.
A jury found Michael Fickes guilty on the felony offense at the conclusion of a three-day trial in Fayette County Circuit Court.
Fickes, 40, was convicted of aggravated participation in methamphetamine manufacturing (400-900 grams), participation in meth manufacturing, unlawful possession of meth-manufacturing materials and unlawful disposal of meth-manufacturing waste.
The jury also found Fickes not guilty on a charge of possession of a methamphetamine precursor.
His sentencing hearing is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 18.
Aggravated participation and participation in meth manufacturing are Class X felonies that are punishable by prison terms of up to 60 and 50 years, respectively. However, maximum terms are doubled when the offender is eligible for extended terms, as is the case with Fickes.
One of the reasons that aggravated participation charges were filed is that the location where Fickes was allegedly making methamphetamine was within 1,000 feet of a church.
Possession of meth-manufacturing materials and disposal of meth-manufacturing waste are Class 2 felonies, which are punishable by up to 14 years in prison for offenders eligible for extended terms.
Fickes is eligible for extended terms due to his criminal history, which includes a five-year prison term for felony theft, and  five- and 15-year sentences for meth possession.
The most recent charges were filed by the office of Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison on Feb. 1 of last year.
At that time, he was charged with possession of methamphetamine-manufacturing materials, including coffee filters and camping lantern fuel.
Five days later, the state’s attorney charged Fickes with aggravated participation in meth manufacturing.
Charges including a secondary aggravated participation in meth manufacturing (100-400 grams), participation in meth manufacturing and possession of a methamphetamine precursor (pseudephedrine) were filed in July of last year.
The first two of those charges were dropped during last week’s trial.
According to Morrison’s office, Fickes was arrested after police, while searching for an individual wanted on warrants, noticed a “chemical odor … consistent with the smell of a meth lab” in the 100 block of South Seventh Street.
Investigating that odor, police confronted an individual in a nearby home and discovered several items commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine in and around the home.
Police discovered that two individuals had fled from the residence, one of those being Fickes, according to Morrison’s office.
Morrison and his assistant, Amanda Ade-Harlow, prosecuted the Fickes case.