Meth-dealing attorney gets 5 1/2 years

James Zink

Former Palisade attorney James Zink was sentenced Wednesday to 5 1/2 years in prison after being caught last year with drugs in his home and selling methamphetamine to a police informant.

According to terms of his plea agreement Zink, 55, was set to receive between 4-6 years in prison for the single charge of drug possession with the intent to distribute.

Zink, in court Wednesday morning, said he never distributed drugs in the community and used meth for “its intended purpose, to stay up and get stuff done.”

That statement did not resonate with Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison, the judge who sentenced him. Robison said she never before heard of meth having an intended purpose other than getting high.

She said she did take into account Zink’s commitment to the community for offering indigent residents reduced prices on attorney fees and that he worked to preserve the historical nature of the building where he practiced law. Zink, who had practiced law for about 25 years, has been disbarred since being arrested in July on the drug charges.

Zink was arrested after selling one-eighth of an ounce of meth to a confidential informant April 19, 2009. A search warrant was executed a couple days later at Zink’s home, 3612 G Road, which doubled as his law practice, and revealed he had meth, marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and a firearm in the home.

Zink’s attorney, Gordon Gallagher, said the Glock handgun officers found during the search near the drugs was sold to Zink by the informant. Gallagher said his client believed police officers had arranged for Zink to purchase the weapon so he would be charged as a special offender for having a firearm near drugs. The handgun was confiscated by police.

Gallagher said his client sold meth on one occasion, though an informant attempted to purchase drugs from Zink on three other occasions.

“Mr. Zink was a user,” Gallagher said. “He was not a seller.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein argued for the maximum sentence for Zink after a letter Zink wrote to the court indicated he did not take any responsibility for the crime. Rubinstein said the effects of meth use are apparent in Zink, noting his diminished stature compared to pictures from two years ago.

Also, as an attorney, Zink should have known better than to use and distribute drugs because he defended clients charged with those crimes.

“I know I did wrong. I’ve been sorry for it for about a year of torture,” Zink said. “If I look a little haggard, it’s the stress of it all.”


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