TIFTON -- Three people charged last fall in two methamphetamine busts were sentenced after they pleaded guilty to felony charges Wednesday in Tift Superior Court.
Chief Judge Gary C. McCorvey said defendants on the Aug. 25 trial calender have until Thursday to enter guilty pleas, if that is what they choose.
"After Aug. 14 of this year, there won't be any deals accepted by the court," McCorvey said during Wednesday's calendar call/motion day. "There has to be a cutoff point."
Wednesday, McCorvey accepted the guilty pleas of Nicholas Bombardier, Melissa Rae Bradford and John Stephen Crapse. The three were each indicted on charges of manufacturing, conspiracy to manufacture, attempting to manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.
Bradford, 23, 706 Dane St., Nashville, was arrested Aug. 30 by agents with the Tift County Sheriff's Drug Enforcement Unit when she drove a Chevrolet S-10 past the Robin Cook Road residence of Christopher Lee Gay, 21. Agents who had been conducting surveillance of Gay and others served a search warrant on Gay's home and found paraphernalia and chemicals used to manufacture the illegal drug. They also spotted Bradford driving by the residence.
Court testimony revealed the agents knew Bradford because they had witnessed her purchasing various items needed to make the drug.
When agents noticed that Bradford's small child was not in the required safety restraints, they stopped the vehicle. Dustin Hall, 22, 2554 U.S. Highway 82 East, Brookfield, who was also charged with various counts, was riding in the vehicle.
Agents learned Bradford was wanted by Lowndes County authorities on a probation violation charge and a search of the truck revealed meth in the glove compartment and lithium batteries, coffee filters and evidence of a "bluish green residue," known to be left when anhydrous ammonia is used, in the bed of the truck.
"You kept mighty rough company," McCorvey said to Bradford in court Wednesday. "Was that your baby (in the truck)?"
Bradford said the baby was hers and that it was in the arms of Dustin Hall.
"If you want to keep the baby, you had better straighten up," McCorvey told Bradford.
Chief Assistant district attorney Kevin Hutto recommended Bradford be sentenced only on the conspiracy charge and recommended she serve a five-year term on probation.
Defense attorney David Bryan asked that Bradford be sentenced as a first offender. McCorvey sentenced Bradford as Hutto recommended and also ordered that she pay $500 in fines, $500 in attorney's fees and ordered her banished from the Tift Judicial Circuit until she completed the probated sentence.
Hutto said the state's recommendation on Bradford's sentencing was "light" in comparison to some methamphetamine cases.
"Ms. Bradford had shown the will to cooperate and provide information to help the D.A. in the cases," Hutto said.
"You dodged a bullet, Ms. Bradford," McCorvey said. "I have no qualms about sending females to the penitentiary."
Hutto learned from Bradford's file that she may have already used her first offender rights in a misdemeanor shoplifting conviction in another county. McCorvey sentenced Bradford under the first offender statute, but if it is confirmed she has already used the one-time right, the terms of the felony sentence will not change.
Nicholas Bombardier, 34, Rt. 1, Box 154, Enigma, and John S. Crapse, 40, Rt. 1, Box 2890, Alapaha were arrested with five others early last September at the Family Values Inn. Both were charged with manufacture, conspiracy to manufacture, attempting to manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.
According to court testimony, Bombardier and Crapse were in a van transporting goods needed to complete the "blowing off" stage of the methamphetamine cooking process to others who had a lab set up in a room in the motel.
Hutto recommended that Bombardier be sentenced to serve 11 years on probation, on the conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine charge only.
Hutto commented that Crapse was known to be involved in multiple drug-related cases in several counties and "that had an affect on the plea recommendation."
McCorvey sentenced Bombardier as recommended and also ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine and the cost of his defense attorney. He was also banished from the circuit until he completes his probation period.
McCorvey sentenced Crapse, who said he now lives in Adel, to serve five years of a 20-year sentence in prison on the same charge and the rest on probation. The sentence will run concurrently with any other sentence in other cases, including one or more in Cook County. Defense attorney Melinda Ryals said Crapse had been incarcerated for two months on a probation revocation in Berrien County and that that case would be heard Aug. 18.
Crapse was also ordered banished from the circuit until completion of his sentence. He waived the opportunity to appear before a sentence review panel. He was also ordered to pay $1,000 in fines.
"Mr. Bombardier's involvement in this was much more peripheral than that of Mr. Crapse," McCorvey said.
McCorvey announced that Bryant's case "had been resolved" and sent him on his way.
"Sin no more," McCorvey told Bryant. "And, find a better class of friends."
To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.
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