By Rachel Petersen
Two local residents recently pleaded guilty in federal court to charges linking them to a federal methamphetamine ring.
Larry Eugene Pirpich Jr., 53, of McAlester, pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute pseudoephedrine and 10 counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises.
Shila Ann Parker, 32, of McAlester, pleaded to two counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises.
Both Pirpich and Parker will remain in custody with the United States Marshal Service pending sentencing. Pirpich is facing up to 20 years in prison on the first count and up to five years on each additional count. Parker is facing up to five years in prison on each of the two counts. Formal sentencing will be scheduled upon completion of a presentence investigation report.
“The indictment alleged that beginning in or about January 2010, and continuing until in or about July 2012, the defendants (Parker and Pirpich) conspired with one another to possess and distribute a list I chemical, pseudoephedrine, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe the pseudoephedrine would be used to manufacture methamphetamine,” states a press release from the U.S. Attorney Office in the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
“While residing in McAlester, Parker and Pirpich would purchase Pseudoephedrine from locations within Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine within the Eastern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere,” the press release states. They “possessed Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and Ohio state identification which enabled them to make pseudoephedrine purchases in multiple states. The Defendants were aware of the pseudoephedrine purchase limits in Oklahoma and would travel to other states to make pseudoephedrine purchases when their purchase limits had been met in Oklahoma.”
“The investigation further revealed that on at least 42 occasions, Parker and Pirpich purchased in excess of 9 grams of pseudoephedrine in a single day,” the press release continues. “In total, both Pirpich and Parker purchased approximately 3 kilograms of pseudoephedrine over the course of 2 years.”
Charges against Parker and Pirpich arose after an investigation, named “operation pappa smurf,” by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Bureau of Indian Affairs, McAlester Police Department, Oklahoma District Attorney District 18 Drug Task Force, Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office, Choctaw Nation Tribal Police, Krebs Police Department, Stillwater Police Department, Shawnee Police Department, Tulsa Police Department, Broken Arrow Police Department, Kiowa Police Department, Lamar County Texas Sheriff’s Office, and Sherman, Texas Police Department.
After the investigation, 17 other people were charged in Pittsburg County with pseudoephedrine and/or methamphetamine related offenses.
Janet Gaynell Crawley, 52, of Savanna, and Stephanie G. Crawley, 29, of Savanna, both pleaded no contest Dec. 21 to charges connecting them to the meth-ring.
Janet Crawley was fined $102,200, with $98,000 suspended. Stephanie Crawley was fined $51,365, with $49,000 suspended. Both women received 10-year suspended sentences. They were convicted of methamphetamine manufacturing related charges. Janet Crawley said she is innocent of the charges she has been convicted.
She spoke to the McAlester News-Capital recently about her recent conviction.
“The charges were so outrageous,” Janet Crawley said. There was no lab ever in my house.” Janet Crawley said she pleaded no contest and accepted being a convicted felon so she could get home to her grandchildren before Christmas. “It wasn’t a matter of guilty or not guilty,” Janet Crawley said. “It was a matter of getting home to my grandkids for Christmas ... If I had to plead guilty to murder I would have, as long as I could be home with my grandkids at Christmas.”
Janet Crawley said she was never involved in a meth-ring and, although she has now been convicted, she is not guilty of those charges. “They found a joint, I’ll admit to that,” Janet Crawley said. “My husband is going through chemo and that helps him. But they didn’t find meth or a meth lab. (The police) know exactly what they’ve done. They could have waited until the kids were at school and they could have waited until after Christmas.”
Janet Crawley, and her daughter, Stephanie Crawley, were manufacturing methamphetamine in their home, where two children, ages 9 and 10, lived with them. Janet Crawley’s husband, Allen Crawley, 59, of Savanna, allegedly manufactured methamphetamine along with his wife and daughter and is still facing charges in the case.
“There’s so much I can’t say because my husband’s case is still pending,” Janet Crawley said.
Cases have been dismissed for many others who were charged in the 19-person methamphetamine ring bust in Pittsburg County.
Former Assistant District 18 District Attorney Wesley Cherry explained the reason for the dismissals. “There is a new court of criminal appeals case that says the penalty for the crime they were charged with is unconstitutional,” Cherry said. Cherry explained that it is illegal for anyone to purchase more than 7.2 grams of pseudoephedrine in a month. “If more than that amount is purchased, it is automatically assumed that the purpose is to manufacture meth,” Cherry said.
It is also illegal for a person who has previously been convicted of a methamphetamine-related crime to purchase any amount of pseudoephedrine, Cherry explained. However, there is a stipulation on that law. The accused would have had to be convicted of the methamphetamine-related crime after Nov. 1, 2010, Cherry said, and would also have had to sign a form indicating he/she understands that he/she would no longer be allowed to purchase pseudoephedrine.
Cherry said the charges against some of the people in this case were dismissed because they did not meet the criteria for which they could be charged with a crime related to purchasing or possessing pseudoephedrine. Charges were also dismissed for:
• George Ward Schnexnaider, 51, of Savanna;
• Sheridan Sexton Jr., 34, of McAlester;
• Bobby Dewayne Justice Jr., 27, of McAlester
• Donald Joe Zukosky, 44, of Haileyville;
• Marcus Delanzo Weaver, 39, of McAlester;
• Tiffany Kay Markland, 25, of McAlester;
• Lindsey Diann Kerns, 29, of McAlester;
• Terry Dale Hill, 49, of Hartshorne;
• Janice Elaine Benson, 49, of McAlester;
• Jerry Don Barnes, 46, of McAlester;
• Karolyn Renee Lebaron, 28, of McAlester; and
• Shon Wayne Skidmore, 43, of McAlester.
Melanie Dawn Leffler, 40, of McAlester, was charged in December along with the 19 others in the alleged methamphetamine manufacturing bust. Leffler was charged Dec. 13 with 13 felony counts of unlawful possession of pseudoephedrine after a possession of a controlled dangerous substance charge. On Jan. 14, those 13 counts were dismissed.
In another case, Leffler was facing charges of manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (marijuana) and misdemeanor unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. In February, Leffler pleaded guilty to the first two counts and was sentenced to 15 years, with the last 10 years suspended.
Allen Crawley and Sharol Jean Martin, 53, of McAlester, are still facing charges in the case. Allen Crawley is due back in court May 23 at 2:30 p.m. to face charges and a warrant has been issued for Martin’s arrest.
Mark F. Green, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, stated, “Purchasing pseudoephedrine for the manufacture of methamphetamine has become such an endemic problem within this district and throughout the country, that many states have enacted laws restricting its purchase.
“Oklahoma was in the forefront of states imposing these restrictions,” Green continued. “In spite of these laws, criminals attempt to find ways to circumvent them. This case should be a powerful indication that efforts to get around these laws will not be tolerated. When efforts to evade these laws are discovered, violators will be vigorously prosecuted resulting in lengthy prison sentences.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office - EDOC, “The investigation was a combined effort and operation coordinated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) of the Eastern District of Oklahoma. OCDETF is an initiative led in and coordinated by the Office of the United States Attorney.”
Contact Rachel Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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