News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 18, 2013

Three from Operation Turn and Burn sentenced in federal court


The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Three co-conspirators in a Wabash Valley methamphetamine trafficking ring were sentenced this week to several years in federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett said Friday that two of the 18 people indicted in last year’s Operation Turn and Burn are still scheduled to go to trial on charges of conspiring to possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, as well as distributing methamphetamine.

Nine defendants have been convicted and sentenced in the case, and seven others have filed their intention to plead guilty and await sentencing.

“The scourge of methamphetamine has taken a heavy toll on Hoosier communities and families in recent years,” Hogsett said. “That is why this office is committed to working with our federal and local partners to identify and dismantle these dangerous criminal organizations who peddle drugs and death in Wabash Valley neighborhoods.”

The indictment alleges that between December 2010 and Feb. 1, 2012, 18 defendants participated in the meth ring by transporting and distributing the drug received from a man in Columbus, Indiana.

Defendants Donald Cheatham, 50, of Reelsville, and Michael E. Smith, 39, of Terre Haute, both remain scheduled for trial on July 15.

This week, Theresa Goins, 53, of Riley, received a sentence of more than 12 years in federal prison. Robert Moore, 47, of Brazil, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Joseph David Havey, 46, of Cloverdale, received a 6-year sentence.

Others already sentenced are Kimberly A. Williams of Terre Haute, 10 years; Edgar Perez, 34, of Columbus, and Jacob Dean, 25 of Brazil, each more than 7 years; Gwendolyn Kallner, 46, of Brazil, two years; Scott Campbell, 47, of Poland and Lori Larkins, 40, of Terre Haute, each one year in prison.

Still awaiting sentencing are Cassandra Cheatham, 44, Christopher Loughmiller, 27, Sankey Rust, 33, and Laura Sproul, 32, all of Brazil, along with co-defendants Monica Beard, 30, Geoffrey Cheek, 26 and James “Chris” Smith, 51, all of Terre Haute. Some sentencings are set for May 28 in federal court in Terre Haute.

According to assistant U.S. Attorney Matthias Onderak, the remaining defendants face sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison if convicted. Due to their criminal histories, some defendants may face sentencing enhancements, including a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison.

Hogsett praised the cooperative effort of local, state and federal agencies in the investigation that resulted in the indictments. The FBI’s Wabash Valley Safe Streets Task Force partnered with the Indiana State Police, as well as sheriff’s departments and prosecutors in Clay, Putnam and Vigo counties, as well as the Terre Haute Police Department.