McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

January 24, 2013

24 felony counts dismissed for McAlester woman in meth-ring case

McALESTER — Charges were recently dismissed for a McAlester woman who was charged in a 19-person methamphetamine-ring bust in Pittsburg County.

Karolyn Renee Lebaron, 28, of McAlester, was charged Dec. 13 in Pittsburg County District Court with 24 counts of unlawfully purchasing pseudoephedrine after a possession of a controlled dangerous substance charge. The case against Lebaron was dropped Jan. 14 after the District 18 District Attorney’s office filed a motion to dismiss.

Charges against the 19 people originally arose from a joint federal and local investigation.

Charges were dismissed Jan. 10 for eight of those 19 who were charged with multiple counts of possessing or purchasing pseudoephedrine after a prior methamphetamine charge or conviction.

Assistant District 18 District Attorney Wesley Cherry explained the reason for the dismissal. “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 the eight 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 dismissed for:

• Donald Joe Zukosky, 44, of Haileyville;

• Marcus Delanzo Weaver, 39, of McAlester;

• Tiffany Kay Markland, 24, 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; and

• Shon Wayne Skidmore, 43, of McAlester.

Prior to these eight dismissals, two Savanna residents pleaded no contest to charges filed against them.

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, 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 allegedly manufactured methamphetamine along with his wife and daughter and is still facing charges in the case.

Two of the 19 were federally indicted and the other 17 were charged with various drug-related felonies in Pittsburg County District Court.

Federally indicted are:

• Shila Ann Parker, 32, of McAlester, and

• Larry Eugene Pirpich Jr., 53, of McAlester.

Still facing charges in connection to the meth-ring in Pittsburg County District Court are:

• Allen Ray Crawley, 59, of Savanna;

• George Ward Schnexnaider, 51, of Savanna;

• Sharol Jean Martin, 53, of McAlester;

• Sheridan Sexton Jr., 34, of McAlester;

• Bobby Dewayne Justice Jr., 27, of McAlester; and

• Melanie Dawn Leffler, 40, of McAlester.

Investigating the case were 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 the Sherman, Texas, Police Department.

The federal indictment alleges that from January 2010 to July 2012, Parker and Pirpich conspired with one another to possess and distribute a pseudoephedrine, knowing the pseudoephedrine would be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

“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,” a press release from the U.S Attorney’s office — EDOK. “Parker and Pirpich 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 press release alleges Parker and Pirpich purchased more than 9 grams of Pseudoephedrine in a single day. “During the course of the conspiracy, Parker individually purchased 1.14 kilograms of Pseudoephedrine and Pirpich individually purchased 1.82 kilograms of Pseudoephedrine,” the press release alleges. “At times throughout the conspiracy, Parker and Pirpich would steal, attempt to steal or purchase items utilized in the manufacture of methamphetamine, in addition to Pseudoephedrine, such as lithium batteries, camp fuel, denatured alcohol, and acetone.”

Parker was arraigned Dec. 13 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, in Muskogee. She is being charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute pseudoephedrine, used to manufacture methamphetamine, and nine counts of interstate travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises. Parker is currently in custody with the U.S Marshal Service pending a Feb. 5 jury trial.

Pirpich, Parker’s co-defendant is facing the same federal felony charges as Parker and was set to be arraigned on Jan. 16.

Allen Crawley is due back in court Feb. 13, Schnexnaider is due back in court Feb. 12 and Leffler is due back in court Feb. 4.

A motion to dismiss was filed Jan. 10 in Sexton’s case.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Martin and Justice.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.

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