Man enters plea in trial for manufacturing meth

A 51-year-old methamphetamine cook who was busted with equipment and chemicals during a 2000 raid on his Finley property now faces more than nine years in prison.

John Matthew Budde put an end to his Benton County Superior Court trial Monday after a day of testimony, and entered an Alford plea to manufacturing meth within a protected school zone and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The Alford plea means he denied committing the crime but believed prosecutors had enough evidence to convict.

Budde went into hiding for more than a decade, until 2010 when Kennewick police detectives learned he was living in Las Vegas. His arrest warrant was then amended to include extradition from Nevada, and he's been in the Benton County jail since April 2011 awaiting trial on this case.

Budde and his wife, Lisa, were arrested in early 2000 by undercover detectives with the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force after officers found supplies and the finished product in their Havana Street home.

Court documents show that a confidential informant wearing a body wire had a discussion with Budde about his meth lab.

After the raid, Budde reportedly told detectives he purchased the chemicals to make meth, but said someone else was going to cook it, documents said.

Budde posted bond on his $20,000 bail, then skipped out on a court hearing a month later. He remained on the lam while his wife went to trial for the crime and was convicted of manufacturing.

Now that Budde has his own conviction for the 12-year-old crime, he must return to court Aug. 9 to confirm a sentencing date before Judge Cameron Mitchell.

Since he has a criminal record, the standard range is eight years to 10 years behind bars. That includes an enhancement for cooking the drugs near a school.

Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor said in court documents that he will recommend a nine-year, five-month prison term.

The documents also said that defense attorney Gary Metro likely will challenge his client's history and will ask for a Special Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, meaning Budde would be ordered to get drug treatment while serving a shorter sentence.