Drugs seized

Nebraska State Patrol troopers say they found 20 pounds of methamphetamine and 2 ounces of marijuana in a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near Kearney in the spring of 2020.

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In back-to-back hearings in a Lincoln courtroom Friday, two Indiana women learned how much federal prison time they would get for helping traffic 20 pounds of methamphetamine through Nebraska.

Shanae Douglas and Antoinette Brandy, both of Gary, Indiana, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute for what started with a traffic stop March 30, 2020, near Kearney.

Prosecutors said the women, who met when Douglas responded to Brandy's Facebook post seeking a second driver for a trip, had flown to California and were driving to Chicago, each getting paid $2,000.

A Nebraska State Patrol trooper stopped the Chevrolet Tahoe they were in for failing to signal a turn on an Interstate 80 exit ramp.

A man with them, Juwan Powell of Harvey, Illinois, is facing indictment for his alleged involvement, too, and set to enter a plea next week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Packard said troopers searched the SUV and found the meth hidden in the Tahoe's tire jack cargo area.

Douglas' attorney, Jon Braaten, said her participation was "about as minimal as you can get," but enough to get her indicted in federal court. She had no criminal record before that.

"We look at moments in life, and there was a moment in Ms. Douglas' life where she responded to a Facebook post. And that moment … has not only affected her life in a substantial way, but it (also) has had a substantial impact on her family's life," he said.

Douglas, a single mom, apologized to the court and said her kids got taken away from her as a result of the crime, which she described as an honest mistake.

U.S. District Judge John Gerrard said it was a "rather major glitch" in her life all for a paltry $2,000.

"Unfortunately, today's sentence is strong medicine for a really bad decision," he said.

Gerrard sentenced her to three years in federal prison.

Soon after, he sentenced Brandy, who had rented the Tahoe and had a prior conviction for delivering marijuana, to four years and four months.

First, Brandy told him she has been waking up every day to her miserable reality. She said her six children need her at home, and if she could turn back and do it over, she wouldn't trust the people she trusted.

She said losing her freedom has destroyed her family.

"I'm asking the court to give me a second chance," Brandy said.

Gerrard said he wished she'd thought of all the things she mentioned at sentencing before she entered into the agreement to help deliver meth.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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