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10 Additional Defendants Charged with Federal Crimes Related to Manufacture of Methamphetamine in West Central Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2011

Total of 24 Defendants Charged in “Operation Saddle Up”

Peoria, Ill. – Ten additional defendants have been arrested and charged in federal court with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine in west central Illinois. The defendants, arrested yesterday, face federal charges in an ongoing cooperative investigation known as “Operation Saddle Up,” to target increased methamphetamine activity in west central Illinois communities. To date, this brings the total number to 24 defendants charged as a result of the cooperative effort.

Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, today joined McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker and Fulton County Sheriff Jeff Standard, in Macomb, Ill., to announce the arrests.

Nine of the defendants arrested yesterday are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman in Peoria. The one-count indictment was returned last month by a federal grand jury, but had remained sealed pending the arrests. Those charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine from January 2010 to the present, are:

  • Kyle E. Williams, 28, of Astoria;
  • Clark J. Robertson, 30, of Astoria;
  • Shawn E. Easley, 36, of Macomb;
  • Jared D. Beans, 27, of Table Grove;
  • Jason T. Beans, 29, of Macomb, (already in state custody);
  • Rebecca C. French, 25, of Beardstown;
  • Brant M. Davis, 39, of Astoria;
  • Mike Kling, 40, of Astoria; and,
  • Sandrello A. Cochran, 38, of Macomb.

The indictment alleges the defendants conspired together and with others to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine from about January 2010 to the present, in McDonough and Fulton counties, and elsewhere.

Another defendant, Joseph Williams, 42, of Industry, Ill., was arrested yesterday and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

Five of the 14 defendants previously charged have been ordered to remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, have entered pleas of guilty, and are scheduled to be sentenced in October:

Justin E. Cox, 27, of Industry, Ill., and Ashley Dawn Alexander, 24, also of Industry, both arrested in February, pled guilty on Jun. 22 and Jun. 24, respectively, to one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Cox is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 7; Alexander is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 21; Billy J. Dewein, 34, of Colchester, Ill., and Crystal Amanda McDowell, 29, of the same address, arrested in February, each entered pleas of guilty on Jun. 22, to one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6; and, Chad VanVoltenberg, 27, no available address, also arrested in February, pled guilty on Jun. 22, to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 7.

William J. Cooper, 29, arrested in May, charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 24 for a change of plea hearing. Cooper has been ordered to remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Office.

The remaining eight defendants charged have been accepted by the court to enter the Pretrial Alternatives to Detention Initiative (PADI). Drug defendants charged in the Peoria division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office may apply, with the concurrence of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to the court to participate in this drug treatment program. Participants are also required to cooperate with the government. Defendants who successfully complete the program, which typically runs one to two years, are then sentenced by the court.

Defendants previously charged who have been accepted into PADI include:

  • Adam John Barcroft, 27, of Monmouth, arrested in February, and charged with manufacture of methamphetamine;
  • Jessyca Cale, 28, of Monmouth, arrested in February, charged with manufacture of methamphetamine;
  • Christine Demaree, 37, of Macomb, arrested in February, charged with manufacture of methamphetamine;
  • Amy VanVoltenberg, 23, no address available, arrested in February, charged with possession of pseudoephedrine;
  • Christine VanVoltenberg, 49, no address available, arrested in February, charged with possession of pseudoephedrine;
  • Ashley Wilson, 22, no address available, arrested in February, charged with possession of pseudoephedrine;
  • Nathan Nickols, 21, of Monmouth, arrested in June, charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine; and,
  • Heather Hawkins, 24, of Monmouth, arrested in June, charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.

The statutory penalty for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five or more grams of methamphetamine is a mandatory minimum five years in prison and up to 40 years in prison; if a defendant has a prior felony drug conviction, the mandatory sentence is 10 years and up to life in prison. The statutory penalty for manufacture of methamphetamine is five to 40 years in prison; if a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty increases to 10 years to life in prison.

The charges are the result of investigations by the Macomb Police Department; Bushnell Police Department; Colchester Police Department; Blandinsville Police Department and the McDonough County and Fulton County Sheriffs’ Offices. These agencies were assisted in making the arrests by the U.S. Marshals Service. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tate Chambers in cooperation with the McDonough County and Fulton County State’s Attorneys’ Offices.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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