First defendent pleads guilty to drug charges

First defendent pleads guilty to drug charges

CLINTON – The first defendant in a series of drug arrests by Illinois State Police Task Force 6 has been convicted in DeWitt County Court this week.

Amanda C. Nelson, 22, who gave her most recent address as 1011 N. Melvin St. in Gibson City, has pleaded guilty to one count of criminal drug conspiracy and two counts of juvenile pimping. The plea agreement was negotiated by Illinois Assistant Attorney General Matthew Hoppock.

Nelson was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the drug charge and 15 years for each of the two juvenile pimping charges. The sentences will run concurrently and were handed down Monday by DeWitt Circuit Court Judge Stephen H. Peters following the plea.

After her prison term, Nelson will also serve three years of mandatory supervised release.

Fines and fees assessed to Nelson total nearly $126,000, including a street value fine of $90,000, a felony fee of $3,000 and a lump sum surcharge of $22,500.

In her plea, Nelson named 12 other members of the Devon Thomas Criminal Drug Conspiracy and agreed to testify against them or others at any time, including after her sentence is served.

She also admitted to delivering 900 grams or more of cocaine supplied by Thomas between August 2006 and April 2007.

Some of the communities Nelson said she and Thomas distributed cocaine in were Colfax, Farmer City, Gibson City, LeRoy, Melvin, Paxton and Sibley.

Nelson stated that, during that time, more than 15 kilograms of cocaine were delivered by all members of the conspiracy from supplies transported by Thomas from Indiana.

Other actions Nelson acknowledged included allowing her property to be used for cocaine delivery or storage, handling cash related to drug transactions, disposing of evidence and introducing both customers and co-conspirators to the drug ring.

Nelson also admitted to two instances where she arranged for Thomas to have sexual intercourse with someone under 16 years of age. She was paid in crack cocaine by Thomas for the service.

The two instances occurred at the Wesley Young home in rural Melvin in Ford County and at the Days Inn of Champaign in Champaign County.

According to the plea agreement, Nelson also acknowledged arranging for her younger sister to engage in sexual intercourse with other persons in exchange for crack cocaine.

Hoppock said charges against Nelson were filed in DeWitt County because much of the drug activity occurred in the Farmer City area and Nelson made her first statement to the DeWitt County Sheriff.

In return for her plea, nine other counts stemming from a May 21 statewide grand jury indictment were dropped. Nelson was originally charged with a total of four counts of criminal drug conspiracy, five counts of unlawful possession or unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, and one count of conspiracy.

A Champaign County forgery charge was also dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

In the money Nelson owes, she agreed to pay Central States Bank $800 restitution. Nelson will get credit for 36 days served since May 21 at the DeWitt County Jail. She was represented by court-appointed attorney Joseph Carberry of Clinton.

According to Hoppock, Thomas is the only conspiracy member to receive federal charges in the drug conspiracy case. He said 14 other defendants have cases pending in McLean, DeWitt and Ford counties.

Hoppock said the assistance of Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz and Ford County State's Attorney Tony Lee were key to his filing the juvenile pimping charges. Lt. Chris Decker of the Gibson City Police Department was also credited as lead investigator on those charges.

Hoppock said other enforcement officers important in the task force arrests were Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Benjamin Halloran and DeWitt County Deputy Sgt. Jered Shoffner.

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