A Patterson-area man could spend up to five years in prison for drug and assault convictions, a sentence that was lengthened because of the number of his previous convictions.

Michael Leroy Whisenant, 54, of Whisenant Road came under investigation in late May 2018 when he sold drugs to a confidential informant for law enforcement, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Mathews said Monday in Caldwell Superior Court.

Detectives searched his house and the surrounding property on June 8, 2018, and found drugs, including about 5 grams of methamphetamine, on a coffee table in the house and beneath a dog food container in a shed, Mathews said.

During the search, Whisenant reportedly struck a member of the Caldwell County SWAT Team.

Whisenant pleaded guilty to maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance and assault on a government official. He also admitted his status as a habitual felon, a charge that comes if someone has at least three prior felony convictions.

Whisenant previously was convicted on charges including breaking and entering, receiving stolen goods, larceny, escaping prison and selling a Schedule I controlled substance, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. His most recent conviction was in 2006, when he was convicted of larceny over $1,000 and admitted he was a habitual felon. He was sentenced then to 10 years in prison, and he was released in September 2015.

Whisenant’s lawyer, Steve Potter, said that Whisenant has a variety of severe health problems and needs surgery. He said that Whisenant is in pain much of the time, was using drugs to self-medicate, and Whisenant’s health problems have intensified over the past three years.

He said that Whisenant hopes to receive medical care in prison and has feared he would die in the county jail, which is not set up for the long-term care of medically fragile inmates. He said that Whisenant worries that he will die in prison anyway, but the plea wraps up his cases in Caldwell County, and he wants to move on.

Judge Daniel Kuehnert sentenced Whisenant to about three to five years in prison.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.