Special to the Bulletin

A 28-year-old Brownwood man was sentenced to 35 years in prison recently after he was convicted of delivery of a controlled substance (cocaine) in a drug-free zone.

District Judge Steve Ellis sentenced Joel Brandon Brooks to the term on Wednesday after a jury found him guilty, according to a press release from District Attorney Micheal Murray’s office.

Prosecutor Ryan Locker presented evidence that sheriff’s Capt. Tony Aaron used a confidential informant to buy $200 worth of crack cocaine from Brooks on Nov. 19, 2007. The informant went to Brooks’ house and bought the drugs in the alley behind 1414 Ave. A, a residence within 1,000 feet of Howard Payne University’s athletic practice field.

Brooks delivered 1.71 gams of crack cocaine in exchange for $200 of the designated funds Aaron gave the informant. The amount of drugs, along with the location of the delivery and delivery within a drug-free zone, elevated the offense to a first degree felony punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

During the punishment phase of the trial, Aaron testified that the Nov. 19, 2007 buy was one of four similar “controlled buys” Aaron made with the same informant over 11 days.

Aaron testified that Brooks, along with his brothers, Mercedes and Jason, were involved in a large-scale crack distribution ring in Brownwood. The controlled buys in November 2007 were part of Operation Family Plan, an extensive drug distribution investigation that ended in a large roundup in December 2007.

Brooks also had a prior misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana in 2001.

Brooks’ attorney, Jimmy Stewart of San Angelo, asked Ellis to grant probation in consideration of Brook’s age and lack of a felony record. Ellis denied the request and assessed the 35-year term.