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Decatur woman gets probation for smuggling meth-laced coloring book pages into jail

Decatur woman gets probation for smuggling meth-laced coloring book pages into jail

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DECATUR — One of the women behind what authorities say is a family-based crime operation to smuggle methamphetamine-laced coloring book pages into the Macon County Jail was sentenced to 24 months probation — and warned that incarceration awaits if she offends again.

Shannon J. Ward, 38, was sentenced Sept. 18 after she appeared in Macon County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to a charge of bringing a controlled substance into a penal institution, a Class 1 felony. Ward’s plea was part of a plea deal negotiated by her attorney, Andrew Wessler, that saw two additional charges of meth possession and one count of meth delivery dismissed.

Sworn affidavits about the case from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office said Ward is the sister of Damien O. McClure, 37, a jail inmate who masterminded the smuggling operation. Ward and other alleged helpers, including her 22-year-old daughter, Rebecca J. Arndt, would mail in the meth-laced pages which McClure tore into strips and sold to other inmates.

McClure had amassed almost $3,000 in his jail account when the drug smuggling ring was busted in March. Already waiting to begin serving a prison sentence of eight years after being convicted of being an armed habitual criminal, McClure was sentenced to another seven years after pleading guilty to one count of meth conspiracy Sept. 16.

In sentencing Ward, Judge Thomas Griffith warned her the next stop was jail if she didn’t mend her ways. “Miss Ward, this is a very, very serious offense; you are on probation but that is not a get-out-of-jail free card,” the judge added. “You are on thin ice, Miss Ward, and if you don’t comply with all aspects of your probation order, you are going to prison -- you understand that?”

“Yes, sir,” Ward replied. She was also sentenced to 99 days in jail, but that was cancelled out with credit for 99 days previously spent in custody.

Arndt, her daughter, has so far pleaded not guilty to two counts of meth delivery plus an additional charge of bringing a controlled substance into a penal institution and one count of drug possession. Her case is set for a disposition hearing Oct. 1.

A non-family member charged in the case, Tammy L. Leigh, 46, took a plea deal May 23 and was sentenced to 24 months probation after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance.

2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review 

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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