Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — The words “attempted distribution” never popped up in the original criminal complaint against a La Jara woman accused of participating in a multi-county drug ring.
Yet Stella Ann Schimpf pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 to a slightly wordier charge, leading the district attorney’s office to dismiss the initial charges against her, including a second Conejos County case.
The 46-year-old woman was among 15 suspects who were arrested on Oct. 11, 2012, after a Chaffee County Drug Task Force investigation branched out from Salida to the San Luis Valley and Cañon City.
As the investigation expanded, police departments in Alamosa and Salida stepped forward to help out. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad and other entities were also on hand to assist.
At the time, investigators who spearheaded the crackdown called the arrests a significant disruption of southern Colorado’s drug trade.
Some of the suspects allegedly sold methamphetamine and Ecstasy to undercover agents. But most of the controlled substances at issue were reportedly powerful prescription painkillers, according to a joint law enforcement press release announcing the arrests.
Investigators claim that many of the 15 suspects obtained oxycodone, OxyContin, Vicodin and other medications by convincing licensed physicians that they needed prescriptions for the drugs.
For her role in the alleged drug ring, Schimpf was originally charged with three counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance, along with three related counts of conspiracy.
According to an affidavit and application for an arrest warrant, Schimpf sold Ecstasy pills to an undercover Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent on two occasions. The agent reported that the colorful pills were named after cartoon characters like Superman and the Transformers.
Schimpf later introduced the agent to a man who allegedly sold him 65 oxycodone pills for $1,000; on another occasion, the agent reported that Schimpf and her boyfriend, Billy Darrel Webster, sold him $800 worth of oxycodone pills.
Schimpf is currently scheduled to be sentenced on March 12.
In the meantime, at least two of her alleged partners will be back in 12th Judicial District Judge Michael Gonzales’ courtroom.
Manassa residents Pamela Richardson and Jennifer Rivera-Lovato are set to enter their respective pleas on Feb. 12.
Richardson is currently reviewing a plea offer from the district attorney’s office, while Rivera-Lovato’s public defender is preparing to file new motions, according to court records.
Authorities allege that the 42-year-old Richardson sold an undercover agent hundreds of oxycodone and Percocet pills between last July and September. The allegations led prosecutors to charge her with four counts of distributing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, plus felony conspiracy.
Rivera-Lovato faces a total of 13 charges, including eight counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance, two counts of conspiracy, two counts of misdemeanor child abuse and one count of “special offender.”
According to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation report, the 32-year-old woman allegedly sold well over $7,150 in oxycodone pills to an undercover agent, along with 90 Vicodin pills.
The child abuse charges stem from allegations that Rivera-Lovato’s two daughters were present during two drug buys.
Other local suspects who were arrested during the sweep include Tessa “Famie” Silva, Savannah McDermott and Hollye and Jeffrey Allen Mitchell.