Ogden • His addiction began like so many others do.
An injury led to prescription pain pills, and when those became unavailable and too expensive, he turned to illegal drugs.
It’s an explanation Tony Miles has likely given in court before in his role as a public defender in northern Utah. But on Wednesday, wearing a Weber County jail jumpsuit and chains, he made a plea for leniency for himself.
“From taking medication to using heroin, that was an easy one for me,” Miles told a judge Wednesday during his sentencing. “I think all addicts have one thing in common, your honor. We can justify things better than anybody. That’s what I did.”
Miles in October pleaded guilty to smuggling heroin and cocaine into the Weber County jail. He also recently pleaded guilty to other drug charges after he was arrested in December for possession of meth and opium.
On Wednesday, flanked by public defenders who were once his colleagues, Miles promised 2nd District Judge Jennifer Valencia that he was going to change his life. This was the wake-up call he needed.
“I just want to return to the person that I was before this,” he said.
Valencia ultimately ordered Miles to spend 120 days in jail — twice the length of time that Miles’ attorneys sought — and ordered him to complete drug court. He’ll serve his time in the Weber County jail, the same facility he tried to smuggle drugs into.
Defense attorney Rich Gallegos told Valencia that Miles’ addiction started more than a decade ago, after a hand injury.
Gallegos said Miles was a good attorney and a friend, who has been in a trajectory of spiraling addiction for years.
It’s not something that went unnoticed, even with his opponents in court.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Christopher Shaw told the judge Wednesday that he had seen the effect of Miles’ addiction for years — he even tried to confront him about his behavior before with a judge — but he wasn’t successful.
“There are some of us in this room who knew this man when he was healthy, and we don’t forget it,” Shaw said. “If you would have asked me 20 years ago if I would be prosecuting Tony Miles at this stage of my career, I would have never believed it. But here we are.”
Shaw said that while the attorneys in his office want Miles to get treatment, he said it can’t be ignored that he violated his duty as an attorney to uphold the law and be an advocate for his clients.
“Tony has failed miserably in that regard,” he said, “And I think he knows it too. I don’t think we can ignore the fact that, unfortunately, Tony tried to take drugs into the jail.”
Shaw asked for jail time, but said he didn’t know how much would be appropriate.
Valencia, the judge, told Miles she felt he was asking her to be more lenient and treat him differently than other drug-addicted defendants because he was an attorney.
“You are not above the law,” she said before handing down her sentence. “The fact that you were a lawyer, I expect more of you, not less.”
Miles’ law license has been suspended, but he told Valencia that he hopes to get it back some day and return to working as a public defender.
“I have such empathy for those people,” he said. "I want to help those people in any way I can, and I know I have to get myself 100 percent straight to do that.”
Valencia said she wasn’t sure how that would be possible to help other drug-addicted clients while trying to stay clean himself — and said he wasn’t welcome in her courtroom if he does practice again as a lawyer.
In the jail smuggling case, prosecutors allege Miles snuck in drugs to give to inmates — though he did not admit to that in plea agreement documents.
Investigators learned that two prisoners who were caught with drugs had discussed someone nicknamed “Law School” who was bringing a “care package," charges state.
Miles did not represent any of the inmates implicated in the case, according to a probable cause statement filed in court, but visited one of them several times in February and March 2017 and another before Miles was arrested April 7, 2017.
On that day, Miles was at the jail to visit a third inmate, according to charges, and signed in using another name. He then went to the “secure area," according to prosecutors. There, a sheriff’s deputy told him he was performing random searches.
He allegedly volunteered that he had a heroin problem and handed the deputy a piece of aluminum foil and a black tube — items that law enforcement say are used to smoke heroin.
When the deputy stepped away to get a glove to collect the items, Miles began fidgeting with his pants, according to charges. When pressed by the deputy, Miles allegedly gave the law enforcement officer a contact lens case. One side of the case had a “black rock” that looked like heroin, police say, while the other side contained a white powder substance that appeared to be cocaine.