The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 21, 2014

No prison time in 2 meth cases

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Two individuals involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine will not serve any prison time.

District Court Judge Nancy Tabor sentenced Heather M. Malmstrom and Nathan D. Johnson on Thursday in connection to guilty pleas for separate charges of possession of controlled substance precursors.

Upon the recommendation of the pre-sentencing agreement and Assistant County Attorney Amanda Myers, Johnson received a suspended sentence of no more than five years in prison and a fine of $750. The fine also was suspended. He must complete two years of probation and his driver’s license was revoked for 180 days.

Johnson was charged in connection with manufacturing meth in his residence at 335 First Ave. According to court documents, an undercover agent with the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement set up a transaction on Sept. 19 of methamphetamine precursors in exchange for meth. Johnson drove the vehicle to the meeting point, according to court documents.

A search of Johnson’s residence revealed a duffle bag, holding a plastic bottle with clear liquid and lithium strips floating in it, according to court documents. Other precursors for manufacturing meth were found in the search. The affidavit continues that Johnson purchased pseudoephedrine nine times between March and September 2013.

“I’ve struggled throughout my life with drug use,” Johnson said. “It seems like I lost everything. I lost my family, my house, my job.”

Myers and Defense Attorney Ryan Gerdes told the court the defendant had no other felony convictions. Myers added that he was honest and cooperative with the state.

“He has expressed and shown by his actions that he would like to change,” Myers said.

Malmstrom also expressed remorse for her involvement in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. She was arrested on June 30 after Clinton police were dispatched to Mercy Medical Center South, in reference to a domestic dispute in the parking lot, near the daycare center. According to court documents, officers noticed her getting in and out of her vehicle multiple times.

The affidavit continues that the arresting officer observed a small red gas can, a plastic can and a large plastic Coleman-style cooler with a lid. The gas can had a vent where a nozzle should have been and the officer observed an extremely strong chemical smell. The officer identified the items in the vehicle as those of a meth lab, according to court documents.

“I want to seek out treatment and do the best I can,” Malmstrom said.

Aside from traffic violations, the only conviction Malmstrom has is for theft. Myers supported the recommendation of the PSI for either a suspended sentence or a deferred judgement with treatment at the Residential Correctional Facility in Davenport.

“I think it’s pretty evident (from the photos in the PSI) Ms. Malmstrom was suffering from substance addiction,” Myers said.

Gerdes asked for a deferred judgment and street probation to her parents’ home. However, Tabor and Myers felt probation would not be enough. Myers added that the structure of RCF should help the defendant.

“I think the RCF will protect the community and will give you that structure to start that substance abuse treatment,” Tabor said.

Malmstrom received a deferred judgment and two years of probation. If she successfully completes the probation, the charge will be dismissed and she will not have a felony on her record.

A charge of conspiracy to manufacture meth was dismissed against each defendant.