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Lakes Region judge pointedly questions woman after rejecting plea deal for drugs

Union Leader Correspondent

January 02. 2018 3:41PM

Jessica Allen, 34, of Danbury, stands with her attorney, Mark Sisti, as she is sentenced to 3 to 6 years in prison on drug charges. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)


LACONIA — A Danbury woman whose illicit drugs sickened an Alexandria police officer last summer will serve 3 to 6 years in prison after a negotiated plea deal was rejected.

Jessica Allen, 34, pleaded guilty Tuesday to seven felony drug charges, including possessing fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The state agreed to dismiss a dozen other pending charges.

The plea deal would have credited Allen with 247 days of pretrial confinement, freeing her in less than a year, which didn't sit well with Judge James D. O'Neill III.

"You're charged with selling methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine. Tell me why you don't deserve longer state prison time," O'Neill pointedly asked Allen.

"I made a mistake," she said.

"You made a lot of them," the judge said. "Your oldest child is 15. Do you think three to six years is appropriate if the roles were reversed and someone sold this poison to your son?"

"I feel like I've learned my lesson. This isn't my life," Allen said tearfully, prompting the judge to call for a short recess.

Defense Attorney Mark Sisti of Chichester urged the judge to consider Allen's lack of any prior criminal record and her dedication to overcoming drug addiction.

"This (is) a rather unique case of a woman who had nothing on her record but the PTO and substitute teaching until she was introduced to meth by her neighbor," Sisti said.

Prosecutor Adam Woods said that, had the case gone to trial, he would have proven that a government informant purchased methamphetamine from Allen twice in September of 2016.

Suspecting Allen was selling drugs, investigators obtained a warrant to place a GPS tracker in her vehicle. Then, as she drove back from Nashua, Tilton police stopped Allen and, under questioning, she admitted to having drugs in the vehicle.

When police searched the vehicle, they found 20 fingers of fentanyl, which amounts to approximately 200 grams of the powerful opiate; a half-ounce of meth; and about $3,000 in cash, Woods said.

"This quantity of drugs is pretty outrageous and committed state prison time is warranted," the prosecutor told the court.

Sisti told the judge that Allen participated in long-term drug and alcohol treatment at Grafton County jail voluntarily. He said she has worked 90 hours in the kitchen there and has been a model inmate.

"This is somebody who got caught up in a really bad skid," said Sisti. "She's trying to reunite with her family and especially her kids."

Allen recounted that she became entangled in the drug scene and that it was out of character from her previous life.

"I never missed a class. I'm 100 percent dedicated to my recovery. I want to get back into my children's lives," she said.

The judge ruled that if Allen completes an outpatient drug treatment program, a year of her minimum 3-year sentence will be suspended. Allen will serve four years on parole after her release and a suspended 7½ to 15-year suspended prison sentence will be hanging over her head for at least a decade to be imposed if she fails to live up to conditions of her release.

Courts Crime Public Safety Alexandria Laconia

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