Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Spaulding pleaded guilty on drug conspiracy charges. Although she intends on pleading guilty according to electronic court documents and a statement read at her most recent hearing, Spaulding has not yet pleaded guilty, as the court deferred hearing her plea until her sentencing hearing March 13, 2018. The article also incorrectly stated that Spaulding was five months pregnant at the time. She was four months pregnant at the time. The Empire regrets the errors. The article below has been updated to reflect the changes.
A Juneau woman accused of drug conspiracy is intending to plead guilty and will face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Tiffany Jo Spaulding, 34, is following on the heels on her co-defendant Christian John Peters, 44, who signalled his intent to change his plea last month and is scheduled to appear in court to do so in January. The two were arrested in August after federal and local law enforcement officers searched their home at 427 Fourth St.
Spaulding and Peters were identified as the recipients of a U.S. Postal Service package in August containing 50 oxycodone pills and 221 grams of methamphetamine mixture.
The sentencing date for Spaulding is set for March 13, but there’s one problem with that — Spaulding is four months pregnant, with a due date of April 2. Assistant Public Defender Jamie McGrady said there will likely be a request for a continuance so the pregnancy doesn’t interfere with the hearing.
U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess agreed to release Spaulding from custody on account of the pregnancy as well. Spaulding also has a blood clot disorder which results in a high-risk pregnancy. On Wednesday night, Spaulding was transported to a residence where she will remain unless she has medical or legal obligations, Burgess ruled.
The residence is owned by Peters, but he is currently living with his mother and is not allowed to have contact with Spaulding due to terms in Spaulding’s case. Burgess said he hopes Spaulding takes her duties seriously, especially as it pertains to seeking treatment for substance abuse.
“I hope you follow through on it because not only are you doing it for yourself,” Burgess said. “You’re doing it for someone else now, aren’t you?”
Spaulding remained calm for most of the hearing, though her eyes welled up with tears as she read from a document aloud in court Wednesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt argued against allowing Spaulding to leave, saying that the severity of her impending sentence makes her a flight risk.
Repeat offender sentenced to short prison stay
Earlier in the afternoon, Burgess sentenced Juneau man Jeremy Robert Reef to 19 months and five days of time to serve in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for violating the conditions of his prior release.
Reef, a convicted sex offender, failed to register his address and also admitted to using methamphetamine during his release. While Schmidt argued for a harsher sentence, saying that Reef has “squandered” opportunities given to him over the years, Burgess said it was a tough decision to make because Reef has both mental health and addiction issues.
Burgess said that Reef, 42, seems to have shown improvement recently, and that much of Reef’s future will depend on Reef’s desire to stay away from the kinds of people who will lead him to relapse once again.
“It’s gonna be an ongoing process and struggle for you,” he said.
Reef’s sentence will be relatively short, as he will receive credit for the six months and five days that he served prior to his initial probation hearing in 2015. He will also receive credit for the eight months or so that he has spent in jail since being arrested this March, Burgess said, so Reef will end up serving about five months. His probation has also been revoked.
The sentence was fairly similar to what Reef’s lawyer requested. Through McGrady, Reef requested that the court revoke probation, impose a sentence of 14 months and a term of five years of supervised release.
According to the sentencing recommendation from McGrady, Reef was able to find housing and counseling through the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health (JAMHI). Reef stayed clean and employed for more than a year.
McGrady said Reef has plans in place for employment, treatment and stable housing during a period of supervision. Reef’s former employer, Russell Reifel, wrote a letter of support for Reef, saying that Reef is a “gentle giant” and a hard worker. Reifel said he “would like to see (Reef) back working again,” and could have a job for him as soon as April 1.
Drug trial pushed back
A trial for a man arrested for drug conspiracy was moved back about two months due to an immigration issue.
Jorge A. Lopez Villareal, who was arrested on July 26 in Medford, Oregon, had a trial scheduled for Dec. 4. McGrady requested that this date be moved back because she is currently working with attorneys from the Alaska Immigration Project to determine Villareal’s immigration consequences. Villareal, 27, is not a U.S. citizen.
According to McGrady’s continuance motion, the immigration attorneys are drafting an opinion letter about how this trial would affect Villareal’s immigration status. That letter should be on McGrady’s desk before Christmas, she said. If Villareal wishes to go to trial after this advice, McGrady will then prepare her case.
A tentative date was set for Feb. 26 as Burgess, who noted that the date could very well change by a couple weeks in either direction.
Villareal was arrested three months after Juneau man Carlos Zavala-Flores, who was also charged with drug conspiracy. Oregon State Police troopers found 22 pounds of marijuana, 6.8 pounds of cocaine and more than $6,700 in cash in a white Chevy Tahoe that the two men were driving.
Juneau man pleads guilty in firearm case
Mack Arthur Parker, 52, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
On June 25 of this year, Juneau Police Department officers found Parker passed out at the wheel of a running car with the windows rolled down. Upon waking, Parker immediately reached for a firearm, a Smith and Wesson Model Walther PPS. Police later found that the firearm had been stolen from the Anchorage area.
Parker was previously convicted in 2001 for first-degree robbery. The penalties for being a felon in possession of a firearm include imprisonment of up to 10 years, a maximum $2,500 fine, a maximum of three years of supervised release and a $100 mandatory special assessment.
In pleading guilty, Parker also waives all rights to appeal his eventual conviction and sentence. Parker’s sentencing has been set for March 18.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.