Jackson attorney pleads guilty to meth charges

By Lawrence Smith | Sep 23, 2010

RIPLEY -– Along with having her license suspended because of it, a Jackson County attorney has opted to plead guilty to charges she manufactured, and distributed methamphetamines.

Jessica Sullivan was scheduled to begin trial on Sept. 14 on meth-related charges. The Jackson County grand jury on June 16 indicted Sullivan, 32, a Ravenswood resident, on 16 counts of possession of a substance used as a precursor to manufacture meth, three counts of attempting to operate a meth lab and four counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.

Sullivan was first indicted on charges a year earlier after a special grand jury was empanelled to address the issue of meth use and trafficking in Jackson County. She was then indicted on eight counts each of possession of a substance used to manufacture meth, and conspiracy.

The indictment was dismissed in October when the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office said it wanted more time to present additional evidence against her. She was indicted again later that month on 16 counts of possession of a substance used as a precursor to manufacture meth, one count of attempting to operate a clandestine lab and 17 counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.

That indictment was dismissed in February when the Prosecutor's Office said it wished to no longer prosecute the case.

Ten days after her recent indictment Sullivan was charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit a felony and delivery of a controlled substance, and two counts of possession of precursors to manufacture methamphetamines during an undercover drug buy. She was released from jail on July 9, the day of her arraignment on the new indictment.

Following her recent arrest, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the investigative arm of the state Bar, opened an ethics case on Sullivan. Given the substance of the allegations against Sullivan, ODC asked the state Supreme Court temporarily suspend her license.

The Court granted the motion on Sept. 9.

The day her trial was scheduled to begin, Jackson County Prosecutor James McHugh announced a tentative plea deal had been reached. In exchange for Sullivan pleading guilty to one of the delivery charges stemming from the July 3 arrest, and one of the conspiracy charges from the indictment, McHugh said he would dismiss all remaining charges against her.

During a plea hearing on Friday, Sept. 17, Sullivan announced she agreed to accept McHugh's offer. Judge Thomas C. Evans III said he would wait to approve the agreement upon completion of a pre-sentence investigation.

Nevertheless, Evans scheduled Sullivan to reappear in court on Nov. 12 for a sentencing hearing. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, and $35,000 in fines.

Sullivan remains free on $155,000 bond.

Jackson Circuit Court, case number 10-F-39; Jackson Magistrate Court, case number 10-F-265-268

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