Woman serves 2 months in prison for smuggling meth

Judge signs off on deal suspending about 3 years from sentence

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2008

A Juneau woman, who police caught last year trying to smuggle nearly a pound of methamphetamines into town by stuffing it in her bra, only had to serve two months in prison because of her efforts to seek treatment.

On Thursday, Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg signed off on a deal between Sauhna Cranston and the state for a four-year prison sentence, with more than three and a half years suspended. Cranston also was given four years probation.

Cranston, 35, already completed the prison portion of her sentence. She spent two months in Lemon Creek Correctional Center and completed two different drug treatment programs that counted as time served.

Juneau District Attorney Doug Gardner said Cranston's sentence could be perceived as her "getting a great deal." But he added that each individual case is unique and it was his opinion that sending her back to prison after she'd completed drug treatment programs in a continuing effort to stay sober was "a loser for everybody."

"I'm willing to give her a break because she was willing to do something for herself," Gardner said.

Gardner added that the lengthy suspended sentence would give Cranston, who was described in court as having a lengthy out-of-state criminal record, plenty of motivation not to reoffend.

"I don't think it's too late for Ms. Cranston to figure it out and go in a different direction," Gardner said.

In September of 2007, Juneau police approached Cranston at the Juneau International Airport after she got off a plane from Seattle. They found 14 ounces of methamphetamines stuffed in her bra, along with 65 pills of hydrocodone.

Cranston's boyfriend, Jerramy McNeil, who pleaded guilty to helping her smuggle the drugs into Juneau, was sentenced earlier to a year-and-a-half in prison.

Cranston and McNeil were both identified as known meth dealers in Juneau, according to statements made by police informants in court records. Cranston also was alleged to have smuggled drugs into Juneau before her 2007 arrest.

Cranston also was alleged to have aided Heather Schimanski, a member of a crime ring that included convicted drug kingpin Vonnie Williams, cash stolen checks in 2007, according to court records. Cranston was not charged with any fraud-related crimes.

During Thursday's hearing, Pallenberg said it was his duty to consider the level of community outrage at Cranston's crime when handing down a punishment. He said he was satisfied that the punishment, while on the "low end," had sufficiently addressed the high level of Juneau's condemnation of larger-scale drug dealers.

He said his top priority in sentencing was to help Cranston's rehabilitation and praised her efforts to do so.

Asked if she wanted to make a statement to the court, Cranston said only, "At this point, I just want to say, 'Thank you,' honestly."

• Contact reporter Alan Suderman at 523-2268 or alan.suderman@juneauempire.com.

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