South Point woman gets prison time

Published 12:43 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Was she a drug trafficker putting the community at risk or a victim of prescription pain pill addiction?

The fate of a South Point woman who admitted drug charges was up to a judge to decide Tuesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Tina McCloud, 47, of 5325 County Road 5, South Point, who had previously pleaded guilty to a second-degree count of possession of drugs and two counts each of fourth and third-degree counts of drug trafficking, awaited sentencing while her attorney and the county’s prosecutor debated what the severity of her punishment should be.

Email newsletter signup

Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson said the woman was arrested as a result of a secret indictment, which charged her with the four counts of drug trafficking. Upon her arrest, she was found with 87 oxycodone pills and $369 cash.

McCloud was subsequently charged with a second-degree count of trafficking in drugs, which was later lowered to a possession of drugs charge.

Anderson recommended the woman be sentenced to six years in prison with $10,000 in fines and a one-year driver’s license suspension.

Chris Delawder, the McCloud’s attorney, said he saw the case different than Anderson.

“I don’t see Mrs. McCloud as some sort of a major criminal,” Delawder said. “She is victim of prescription pain pill addiction.”

Delawder said McCloud was working as an ICU nurse when she was injured on the job, requiring surgery and pain medication.

McCloud addressed the court, saying since the surgery in 2000, he has been struggling with the addiction ever since and that it escalated in 2010 and 2011.

“I guess it’s going to be a struggle forever,” McCloud said.

She also apologized to the court and said, “I can’t take it back. I just wish the things that happen to me don’t have repercussions on other people.”

Delawder then read aloud several letters from members of McCloud’s family written to Judge D. Scott Bowling, including her 9-year-old daughter and mother.

“Even though my mom broke the law I understand you’re probably not happy with her right now,” the child wrote. “But she is loving and caring and the most wonderful mother anyone can have. Please if you could open your heart and help us get through this rough time with our mom and make sure that we finally get to see her …”

McCloud’s mother asked the judge for leniency so her daughter could seek treatment.

Pete McCloud, husband of the defendant, read his letter for the court, saying the past couple of years have “been a living hell for our entire family,” but that he hasn’t given up on his wife.

He also said that his wife never waivered in taking care of their children or himself when he was ill.

“I know now that drug addiction is a disease and I wouldn’t turn my back on her if she had cancer,” he said.

Delawder asked Bowling to consider probation or a lesser prison sentence of two years for McCloud, saying she only hurt herself with her crimes.

“If there was ever a case that called for leniency, this is it,” he said.

Anderson took a moment to rebut, saying that McCloud’s crimes were not just about drug addiction, saying she admitted to selling pills for at least a year, which were fronted to her by someone getting the pills from Detroit drug dealers.

“It poses a significant risk to the community,” Anderson said. “To say that this was just an addiction and it poses no risk to our community, when you’re trafficking in this level of oxycodone, it poses a significant risk to people on the roads to the people in our community. And that’s why we take it so seriously.”

Bowling agreed with Anderson and sentenced the woman to five years in prison with a $7,500 fine and a one-year driver’s license suspension. He also said he would consider a judicial release after two years of good behavior.

“I’ve considered the circumstances surrounding your case I find it horrendous the fact that you were grossly abusing prescription medication while you were being entrusted to care for other people,” Bowling said. “That doesn’t help your case, in my opinion. Not at all. That’s scary.

“My goal and my hope with the sentence imposed today is that at the end of the two-year minimum sentence you will be in a position to be free from the drug addiction you have.”