By Joe Beck
The second of four defendants accused of dealing methamphetamine in Shenandoah and Page counties pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Sheila Ann Payan pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute 50 to 499 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine in exchange for dismissal of several other related counts filed against her.
Payan could receive a prison term of 10 years to life imprisonment at a sentencing hearing scheduled for May 29 before U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski.
Another defendant, Gerald Keith Lutz, pleaded guilty last week to distributing at least 500 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine. He also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Court documents state that Lutz and Sheila Payan were part of a ring of methamphetamine sellers that also included Jose Dolores Payan, formerly of Woodstock, and Carlos Ruben Fuentes, both of whom still have charges pending against them.
A complaint filed by an agent with the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force accused Jose Payan, formerly of Lupton Road in Woodstock, of dealing methamphetamine from March 2011 until early 2012.
The complaint states that Lutz told investigators that the Payans sold methamphetamine to him throughout the year. At one point, the Payans moved from Shenandoah to Page counties, but continued to sell methamphetamine after their move, according to court records.
Authorities said Lutz also was found in possession of a .17-caliber rifle and a .28-caliber shotgun, a crime for someone who has previously been convicted of a felony.
The court records list several convictions in Shenandoah County for distribution of marijuana, PCP and cocaine from 1977 through 1990 among Lutz's previous felonies.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org