By Tyler Roebuck
COLUMBIA CITY — A Hudson couple face sentences of 11 and five years for meth-related charges after Monday’s Circuit Court.
Brenda Bailey, 57, and Charles Sheets, 56, of Hudson were charged with dealing and possession of methamphetamine, respectively.
The couple was arrested after Bailey sold 5.5 grams of methamphetamine to a confidential informant in April. Sheets was the driver, and according to police reports, “Mr. Sheets was aware of the pending transaction and still chose to drive Ms. Bailey to the deal.”
According to reports, the informant was given cash and recording equipment for the deal, which occurred April 19 in the McDonald’s parking lot in Churubusco.
Sheets claimed that “he thought they were going to pick someone up who needed a ride and that he did not know anything about the transaction,” reports said.
Bailey, however, was allegedly “insistent that Mr. Sheets knew what they were going to do,” before they left for the deal.
An investigation after the arrest revealed that Bailey had $4,806 on her person.
For Bailey, defense attorney Scott Lennox argued that her role was minimal, having only delivered supplies to a known dealer “after months of him pestering her,” he said. “I don’t think she is dangerous to the community.”
Prosecutor DJ Sigler disagreed.
“While I’m certain Mr. Lennox dutifully recounted what his client told him, the confidential informant said in the affidavit that they purchased methamphetamine from Ms. Bailey more times than he could count,” he said.
Lennox asked for the entirety of Bailey’s sentence to be suspended – Sigler pushed for the maximum 12 years available through the plea agreement.
Judge Matthew Rentschler handed down a sentence of 11 years, with nine of those years executed and two suspended.
“Probation alone is not enough to account for what you’ve done,” Rentschler said. “You are one of few people I’ve seen who has been convicted of dealing twice. To me that reads drug enterprise.”
Bailey was convicted of a marijuana charge in 1985.
Sheets’ story differs considerably from Bailey’s. With a significant criminal record, Sheets faced an uphill battle to a light sentence. This was contrasted, however, by his limited influence in the instance of his arrest. According to Lennox, Sheets had nothing to do with arranging the drug deal and was not aware what was going on until it was too late.
“Mr. Sheets got himself into a position that was unfortunate,” Lennox said. “At this point in his life he had begun to turn it around.”
Rentschler was concerned about Sheets’ record, having been convicted of 25 misdemeanors and nine felonies.
“You’re on your 35th chance,” he said. “Benefit of the doubt no longer extends to people in your situation.”
Ultimately, Sheets will serve a five-year sentence, with two years executed and three suspended.
Both Sheets and Bailey will serve their sentences at the Department of Corrections.
In other Whitley Circuit Court News
• Connie Cox, 48, and Ashley Julian, 27, of Columbia City were sentenced to 1.5 years for welfare fraud in accordance with a plea agreement. The entirety of their sentences are to be on probation.
• Danny Lakes, 32, of Riverdale, Ill., pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, a level 4 felony. In accordance with his plea agreement, Lakes will face a six-year sentence, with up to all of it being executed. His sentencing hearing is Jan. 29.
• Aaron Petelle, 42, of Columbia City, pleaded guilty to burglary, a level 4 felony. According to the plea agreement, he will serve a 10-year sentence with between four to eight years executed.
• Whitney Tackett, 26, of Rome City, asked for a bond reduction on charges of possession of a controlled substance, OWI with a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and neglect of a dependent. Sigler thought she would be a risk, with a history of “deception crimes.”
“This is a major felony, and given the transient nature of Ms. Tackett’s recort, the court should find bond in this case to be adequate,” Sigler said.
Rentschler took the issue under advisement.
• Jammie Pulley, 41, of Fort Wayne, appeared for a hearing on a child support issue. Pulley has a history of health problems, and recently applied for disability benefits, so defense attorney Anthony Churchward requested a continuance to wait for word on those benefits. Sigler disagreed.
“The only way we’re going to see Mrs. Pulley’s children get help is by going through this process,” he said.
Her hearing was continued to Jan. 29.
• Steven Waid, 41, of Larwill, appeared for a violation of probation after being charged with possession of methamphetamine and auto theft in August in Kosciusko County. A debate ensued over how much more time Waid had remaining on his sentence, so Judge Heuer ordered a dispositional hearing to take place on Jan. 29, and appointed Churchward to represent Waid.
• Tyler Neal, 25, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to possession of a legend drug, possession of paraphernalia, false informing and possession of methamphetamine. With the highest of these being a level 6 felony, Neal faces a maximum sentence of 2.5 years. His sentencing hearing is Jan. 29.
• Kristine Hart, 41, of North Webster, also pleaded guilty to charges of dealing methamphetamine, a level 4 felony. According to her plea agreement, Hart will serve an eight-year sentence with six years served on home detention and the remaining two suspended.
• Kelsee Groce and Lisa McKinney received modifications in their sentences, moving to probation and work release, respectively.
• Edward Chambers had his record expunged after leading a clean life since 2007. Chambers was originally charged in 2001 with dealing a schedule I controlled substance, and again with public intoxication in 2006.
“It would appear Mr. Chambers is the person this statute was intended for,” Judge James Heuer said.