CANYON CITY – State charges against John Day resident Rod Rookstool are expected to be dismissed once a federal plea deal is concluded, officials said last week.

 Rookstool was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court last Thursday, Jan. 6, but that was delayed by a death in the family of U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, who was to hear the case.

 Rookstool’s attorney, Larry Roloff of Eugene, said however that the plea negotiations with the U.S. Attorney’s office continued to be “right on target.”

 Speaking by phone during a hearing Thursday, Jan. 6, in Grant County Circuit Court, Roloff said that after arraignment, his client would enter a plea and officials would begin preparing a presentence report, which takes about six weeks. Sentencing would follow.

 Circuit Judge William D. Cramer Jr. scheduled a March 21 hearing to dismiss the state charges if the federal case is resolved as expected.

 Meanwhile, the state charges against Rookstool remain pending in Grant County. He was indicted last year on 28 counts of drug charges and four counts of theft. He and a dozen other people were arrested in the probe, which spanned several counties. Police searched Rookstool’s home on Bridge Street in John Day in January 2010.

 Grant County District Attorney Ryan Joslin said having the case handled by the federal court made sense for his office. Federal cases generally result in stiffer penalties than would be possible in the state courts.

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