Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Prosecutors dismissed a majority of charges against a Manassa woman who sold hundreds of prescription drugs to an undercover law enforcement agent, after she pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing a Schedule II controlled substance.
Pamela Richardson originally faced three additional charges of distribution, along with a related count of conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance.
The remaining charge carries a presumptive sentence of four to 16 years in state prison, or up to 32 years behind bars under extraordinary circumstances. But in exchange for Richardson’s plea, the district attorney’s office will recommend that she serve a deferred sentence of three years.
Law enforcement agents who presided over a six-month investigation that led to Richardson’s arrest had no input in the deal, and one of them told the court that they strongly disagree with its final terms.
“We believe this is sending the wrong message to the community on this huge problem that we’re experiencing,” Alamosa Police Capt. Robert Jackson said Tuesday.
Twelfth Judicial District Judge Michael Gonzales said he has reservations about the deal, as well.
He called the disposition a very good one for the defendant, provided that she complies with the terms and conditions of the deferred sentence. But he told Richardson that almost 70 percent of the defendants who accept similar deals end up violating those terms.
Ultimately, the judge has the authority to determine if the deferred sentence is appropriate.
He’s expected to make that decision on April 11, when the 52-year-old woman is set to appear at a sentencing hearing.
In addition to Richardson, 14 other suspects were arrested last October, following a multi-agency investigation into an alleged drug ring that stretched from Conejos County to Salida and Cañon City.
Some of the suspects allegedly sold methamphetamine and Ecstasy to undercover agents. Others reportedly trafficked in powerful prescription painkillers, including oxycodone, a semi-synthetic opiate.
Richardson was one of those people, according to the original charges against her. For an estimated grand total of $2,700, she sold an undercover Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent hundreds of oxycodone and Percocet pills between last July and September.
A second suspect, Stella Ann Schimpf, pleaded guilty last month to attempted distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance. The La Jara woman was originally charged with three counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance, along with three related counts of conspiracy.
In two related cases, the public defender’s office has entered not guilty pleas on behalf of La Jara resident Hollye Mitchell and Jennifer Rivera-Lovato of Manassa.
Other Valley residents who were arrested during last October’s sweep include Billy Darrel Webster, Tessa “Famie” Silva, Savannah McDermott and Jeffrey Allen Mitchell.