By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A Pierceton woman will serve 13 years in prison for two drug dealing cases.
In the first case, Mary Jean Emline Howard, 52, 8280 E. US 30 Lot 52, Pierceton, was charged with possession of methamphetamine, a level 3 felony. Howard was also charged with dealing in methamphetamine, a level 2 felony, in a second case. Eight additional criminal charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Howard was sentenced in Kosciusko Circuit Court on Monday, June 29.
On June 17, 2019, a Nappanee Police officer noticed a vehicle driving left of center on the roadway multiple times on SR 19, leading the officer to pull the vehicle over.
According to court documents, the officer noticed a large bag of marijuana on top of Howard’s purse. The officer then searched the vehicle and found numerous bags containing methamphetamine and $407 in cash. A gym bag containing methamphetamine was in the vehicle’s trunk.
Combined, the methamphetamine weighed 323 grams.
On Aug. 15, 2019, the NET43 Drug Task Force made a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Howard. The purchase of 14 grams of methamphetamine was captured by digital surveillance.
Howard was also previously convicted of possession of methamphetamine on Nov. 7, 2013, in Kosciusko County Circuit Court.
Two of Howard’s family members testified during court proceedings on Howard’s behalf.
“She’s an amazing woman that made poor decisions,” said Howard’s daughter. “There are a lot of amazing programs out there that she could do.”
“She’s always done good under supervision,” said Howard’s husband. “She’s a good mom and a hard worker. It’s not just her in custody. It’s all of us.”
Defense Attorney Richard Thonert presented letters from the executive director of the Rose Garden Recovery Community, stating that Howard would be accepted into their program.
“I just want to apologize to the community,” said Howard. “I’m a changed person and I want to give back to the community. I am really sorry and I hope I’m able to get help through the Rose Home.”
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Buehler asked Judge Michael Reed to accept the plea agreement, noting Howard’s prior criminal history.
For possession of methamphetamine, Reed sentenced Howard to six years in the Indiana Department of Correction. In that case, Howard has 293 days of jail time credit. For dealing in methamphetamine, Howard received a 13-year prison sentence, with six years suspended on formal probation.
Reed also recommended Howard participate in the Recovery While Incarcerated program while serving her sentence.
“You might be dead had I not revoked your bond,” said Reed. “There are consequences for our actions.”