FIRST DEFENDANT PLEADS GUILTY IN SW WASHINGTON PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE NETWORK
Defendant Admits She Illegally Sold Methadone
JULIE A. SCHOONOVER, 36, of Castle Rock, Washington pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to Distribution of Methadone. In her plea agreement SCHOONOVER admits that during 2007 she sold approximately 150 methadone pills from her home in Castle Rock. On one occasion SCHOONOVER sold 100 methadone pills for $300. SCHOONOVER is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess on September 6, 2007.
SCHOONOVER was indicted earlier this month as part of a co-ordinated law enforcement effort to address a growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Southwest Washington. During the course of this eight month investigation, the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force members used undercover agents, officers and informants to purchase the narcotics. Many of the transactions were recorded on video and audio. SCHOONOVER and six other defendants were indicted federally. SCHOONOVER is the first to plead guilty.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 6 million Americans are currently abusing controlled substance prescription drugs – that is more than the number abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined. Researchers at the Center for Disease Control report that opiate prescription pain killers cause more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin. Cowlitz County has seen increasing numbers of overdoses and deaths from prescription narcotics.
Distribution of Methadone is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
The cases were investigated by the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Today’s arrests involved officers and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office, the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office, the Longview Police Department, the Kelso Police Department, the Castle Rock Police Department, the Washington State Patrol, the U.S. Marshal Service, and the Washington State Department of Corrections.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.