Judge gives drug defendant a chance to change direction
By Janice Gregorson
A Rochester woman charged with selling cocaine has been given a chance to prove she is sincere about turning her life around and staying off drugs.
Olmsted District Judge Kevin Lund stayed a seven-year prison sentence Monday and put Amanda Mae Heath, 28, on probation for 30 years.
Heath was charged along with Lawrence McCree, 37, of Rochester, with selling drugs to informants during a narcotics investigation in December and January. McCree was charged with 11 felonies. Heath was charged with nine counts. She pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sale of cocaine, and the other charges were dismissed.
Senior Assistant Olmsted County Attorney Jim Spencer joined the recommendation from court services that Lund depart from the presumptive 86-month prison term and sentence Heath to a year in jail.
"She participated in some very serious crimes, but we recognize she was acting as a front for McCree," Spencer said.
He also asked for either a stiff fine or 300 hours of community work service.
"She has done significant harm to this community and needs to give something back," he said.
Lund sentenced Heath to one year in jail but spread it out over four years. He ordered her to serve 90 days as soon as a work-release bed is available. She is to report for another 90-day sentence on June 1, 2003, 2004 and 2005. However, Lund told Heath that if she can prove, through letters from appropriate people, that she has maintained her sobriety, she may be excused from serving the last six months.
Any violation of the conditions of her sentence during her 30 years of probation, including use of drugs, could result in being sentenced to the 86-month prison term, Lund told Heath.
Lund ordered her to pay a $50 fine and do 250 hours of community work service.
The case against McCree remains open.