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MADISON — A Baraboo man with an extensive criminal history and a drug addiction was sentenced to serve seven years in federal prison for possessing firearms as a felon.

Matthew J. Soban, 28, was on probation from a prior robbery conviction last summer when Baraboo police learned he might flee the area. They took him into custody along with two pistols, ammunition and a controlled substance, said U.S. District Judge William Conley.

Soban faced up to 10 years in prison. Conley said there were few mitigating circumstances he could find to give Soban leniency other than a difficult upbringing and being addicted to drugs for much of his adult life.

“Even the addiction cuts both ways, because it also makes you a danger to yourself and the community,” Conley said.

Soban wrote to Conley that his mother was drug user and as a child, he would find her drug paraphernalia lying around. Soban mostly lived with his father as his mother had difficulty providing for herself or her two children.

Soban wrote that he abused opiates as a teenager, but his drug use really took off at 15 years of age when his father committed suicide. Soban wrote that he partied “like a rock star,” becoming more reckless in his drug use.

That led to his first conviction two years later for narcotics possession.

Soban has been incarcerated for six of the past 10 years after being convicted and sentenced for manufacturing/delivery of heroin, robbery with threat of force, misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor methamphetamine possession.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan didn’t recommend a specific sentence but called Soban’s prior crimes “serious” and noted he was on state probation when he was found last summer with drugs and guns.

“He’s certainly one for whom the (felon in possession) law was intended for,” Stephan said.

Soban’s attorney, Peter Moyers, agreed that Soban has “a lot of growing up to do,” but said he has taken responsibility for his actions, never asked why his case was transferred to federal court and pleaded guilty to the firearms charge.

Soban said he realized he wouldn’t stop committing crimes until he gets his drug addiction under control.

“I want to stay in the community after working on myself in prison,” he said.

Conley voiced doubts about Soban’s sobriety after prison. Soban has completed substance abuse programs while incarcerated but returns to using drugs when he is released.

Although Soban has the maturity to tackle his addiction, he may be using that maturity and drugs to mask the pain he has felt since his troubled upbringing. Conley said.

“Self-reflection is superficial when there’s an absence of feeling which you’ve probably used to cope with your pain,” the judge said.

Conley called Soban “charismatic” and “smart” and could be helpful to other addicts “if you figure out how to help yourself.”

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