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Woman sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for distribution of heroin

May 28, 2010

A Falling Waters, W.Va., woman was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison this week after pleading guilty in Washington County Circuit Court to distribution of heroin.

Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley sentenced Melissa Marie Vandegriff, 35, of 230 Kurtis Drive, to eight years in state prison, but suspended 5 1/2 of those years. He ordered her to spend three years on probation after her release from prison.

In exchange for her plea, the state dismissed two counts each of possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, and one count of criminal conspiracy to distribute narcotics, according to court documents.

On Jan. 21, 2010, an undercover agent with the Washington County Narcotics Task Force arranged to purchase $220 worth of heroin from Vandegriff, according to the statement of probable cause. The agent bought seven packets of heroin from Vandegriff in the parking lot of the Williamsport McDonald's, court papers say.

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The agent later made arrangements to meet Vandegriff the next day at the AC&T in Williamsport, court documents show. At that meeting, Vandegriff was taken into custody and police found another 15 packets of heroin, according to the statement.

Vandegriff broke her neck a few years ago and became addicted to painkillers, Assistant Public Defender Jerome Joyce said. When her prescriptions ran out, she began using heroin and was selling the drug to support her habit, he said.

Beachley imposed a sentence less than the four years recommended by the Washington County State's Attorney's Office.

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