California Man Sentenced to Federal Prison in Methamphetamine Distribution Case With Northwest Iowa Ties

A California man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine by mail to northwest Iowa was sentenced on Wednesday in Sioux City Federal Court to serve 30 years in prison.

67-year-old James Sterner previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Evidence showed that Sterner conspired to distribute meth in and around Sioux City from August 2019 to October 2019 after he received the meth via mail. Sterner was released on pre-trial supervision in 2020, but failed to appear for a change of plea hearing in October 2021 after submitting forged documents to the court which falsely claimed that he had cancer. A warrant was issued, but Sterner’s whereabouts were unknown for over a year before he was arrested in April of last year in Anaheim, California.

After pleading guilty to conspiracy charges, Sterner distributed methamphetamine-laced paper in the O’Brien County Jail while awaiting sentencing. Sterner has ten previous controlled substance-related convictions.

Sterner is being held in the U.S. Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.