Philadelphia, PA - In front of family, friends, and colleagues, Garrett Dudeck broke down only once as the judge considered his sentence.
Dudeck, 44, of Bethlehem, was s Industrial Technology teacher until 2011, when he was . He was unable to answer U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond when asked about his students.
"You are a teacher," said Diamond, interrupting Dudeck's statement to the court. "What kind of example are you setting for students? What am I supposed to do with that?"
As various character witnesses explained to the judge, Dudeck -- who ended up being sentenced to one year and one day in jail -- took full responsibility for his actions.
"Gary [Dudeck] told me that in many ways, the arrest [in March] saved his life," said former Southern Lehigh business director and friend Jim Snell in a prepared court statement. "I have grown to respect him more in the past year as he takes responsibility for his actions and works to move forward with his life."
Snell, who sits on the board of directors for the Bo Tkach Foundation, also stated there may be a chance to work with children in other capacities in Dudeck's future.
Other colleagues were on hand to testify on Dudeck's behalf. "Gary [Dudeck] has the ability to reach and impact difficult students in the building," said Solehi MS reading teacher Harold Breitenstein.
Both Snell and Breitenstein, longtime friends of Dudeck's, expressed dismay and disbelief at the lengths their friend went to hide what they said were his depression and drug abuse.
"I don't think any of us understood the magnitude of [Dudeck's] depression," said Breitenstein.
Defense attorney Patrick Reilly, whose child attends a Southern Lehigh school, painted a picture for the court of Dudeck as a man on a path of bad choices, not a hardened criminal. "He wasn't on the [Drug Enforcement Administration's] radar, [Dudeck] isn't a hardened criminal. But he's sought treatment for his depression and drug and alcohol addiction."
"The arrest was a blessing in disguise," said Dudeck,
Reilly pointed to the numerous letters of support from members of the community, as well as his current counselors as proof that Dudeck could be a productive member of the community and shouldn't serve any jail time. "He can still make a difference in children's lives."
In the end, the judge agreed that while Dudeck is an atypical defendant, he is still an example for children and that his crime was serious. "The young people know [that Dudeck sold methamphetamines]. People need to remember that the defendant let all of you down. Not the DEA, not the government."
The judge did agree that Dudeck qualified for safety valve relief sentencing, allowing him to be sentenced to under the mandatory minimum, which for selling methamphetamines is five years.
Dudeck was sentenced to a year plus one day in a minimum security facility, plus three years of probation and a $3,500 fine. He is to report to the Lehigh County Correctional Facility no later than noon on June 25.
"A lot of people went to bat for you," Diamond said. "The [U.S. attorney's office], your friends and family. I could have sentenced you to five years. You don't want to be in my courtroom again."