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Plea deal proposed in drug ring case

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 26th, 2013

Courier staff writer

CONEJOS — A Romeo woman accused of conspiring to distribute oxycodone and Ecstasy will avoid more serious felony charges under the terms of a proposed plea deal.

Prosecutors are giving Savannah Leigh McDermott the chance to plead guilty to an unspecified misdemeanor count. In exchange, they would dismiss an original felony charge of conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance, along with an amended felony count of distribution of an imitation controlled substance.

Authorities arrested the 22-year-old woman and 14 other people last October, following a six-month investigation into an alleged drug ring that reached from Conejos County to Salida and Cańon City. Most of the suspects allegedly trafficked in powerful prescription painkillers, although some of them reportedly sold methamphetamine, as well.

In McDermott’s case, police allege that La Jara resident Stella Ann Schimpf sold an undercover Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent $440 worth of Ecstasy pills on her behalf.

The pills, which were named after cartoon characters like Superman and the Transformers, contained high levels of caffeine, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation lab analysts.

The agent later met with McDermott and told her that the quality of the Ecstasy wasn’t very good.

McDermott “somewhat apologized,” according to the affidavit, telling the agent that the drugs came from California. She added that she would be able to sell him some oxycodone at another time, the affidavit says.

While McDermott won’t return to court until April 24, a number of her co-defendants have already reached similar plea deals with the district attorney’s office.

Schimpf pleaded guilty in January to attempted distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance; on March 12, Twelfth Judicial District Judge Michael Gonzales sentenced her to 90 days in jail and placed her on supervised probation for three years.

That same day, Manassa resident Jennifer Rivera-Lovato pleaded guilty to distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance.

Prosecutors, in turn, dismissed 12 additional charges against her, including seven counts of distribution, two counts each of conspiracy and misdemeanor child abuse and one count of “special offender.”

According to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation report, the 32-year-old woman sold well over $7,150 in oxycodone pills to an undercover agent, along with 90 Vicodin pills.

A separate case is also pending in Chaffee County, where Rivera-Lovato is scheduled to enter a plea on April 30.

In two related cases, Manassa resident Pamela Richardson pleaded guilty in February to distributing a Schedule II controlled substance, while La Jara resident Jeffrey Allen Mitchell pleaded guilty on March 4 to the same charge.

The district attorney’s office subsequently dismissed numerous other charges against both defendants.

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