Woman pleads not guilty to meth sales, possession
Published 9:10 am Friday, June 18, 2010
A 22-year-old woman entered five not guilty pleas to four counts of methamphetamine sales related to alleged sales to a drug task informant and one count of meth possession on Wednesday in Freeborn County District Court.
Victoria Ann Rivera Lopez, of 715 S. Broadway Ave. in Albert Lea, appeared with her public defender, Stephen Erickson, at an omnibus contested hearing. Erickson entered the not guilty pleas and asked for a jury trial.
Erickson and Freeborn County Assistant County Attorney David Walker questioned two police officers about their actions on the day they arrested Lopez on May 4.
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The officers giving testimony were Patrol Officer Adam Conn and Cpl. Darin Palmer, both of the Albert Lea Police Department.
They stated that they stopped Lopez on the Blake Avenue exit off Interstate 35 on May 4 for a speeding violation. She was not ticketed and Conn noticed a small compartment on the back of the front passenger seat.
Conn then asked Lopez if she would give him consent to search her car, and she agreed. He looked at the hollowed out area in the passenger seat which he described as about 5 inches by 5 inches and a few inches deep. He said he didn’t find anything in the compartment, and then he searched the front area of the car where he found plastic baggies with traces of narcotics.
After the officers’ testimony Erickson argued that the officers expanded the scope of their search of her car and asked that the court find it an improper search and therefore have the case dismissed.
Walker then said he thought the officers were well within their rights to ask for consent to search the car, which Lopez granted. He said they had rightful suspicions, and said they “did this exactly the way they should.”
Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab said he would take the contested count under advisement. Erickson then pleaded not guilty to all counts and said the defense was not requesting a speedy trial.
The four counts of meth sales that Lopez pleaded not guilty to are from a series of interactions with an informant earlier this year:
Third-degree meth sales: Court documents state Lopez faces this charge after she allegedly sold 1.5 grams of crystal meth to an informant for $300 on Jan. 14. This took place on the corner of Southeast Marshall Street and Fenton Avenue.
Third-degree meth sales: Her second third-degree meth sales charge stems from an alleged sale on March 1 of about 0.9 grams of crystal meth to an informant at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Albert Lea for $150.
Second-degree meth sales: Court documents state Lopez allegedly sold 3.4 grams of crystal meth to an informant at the same hotel on March 4 for $325.
Second-degree meth sales: This charge stems from an alleged sale of 3.9 grams of crystal meth to an informant on the corner of Southeast Marshall and Fenton.
Because Lopez has been convicted of a previous controlled substance crime — the conviction came in May of 2009 for an offense from 2007 — she faces stiffer penalties if convicted of these crimes.
The count of meth possession carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, and a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison.
The third-degree sales charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. It has a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.
The second-degree sales charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. It has a mandatory minimum sentence of three years.