Just show up at the Willoughby UPS store and sign for some packages. As it turned out, it wasn’t so simple.
Little did Coleman know, officials were waiting for her at the SOM Center Road facility on Feb. 26, 2016, when she went to pick up 27,000 grams of marijuana to give to someone else to sell. Willoughby police had received a call from Lake County Narcotics agents that they were investigating Coleman and had intercepted the drugs ahead of time. “It seemed easy. It seemed too good to be true. It was too good to be true,” defense attorney Thomas Shaughnessy said April 10 in Lake County Common Pleas Court.
Now, Coleman, a 31-year-old Maple Heights woman, must spend the next three years in prison. Coleman — who is in her last trimester of pregnancy — apologized to Judge John P. O’Donnell for her poor judgment, saying her intention was to take care of her family. She previously pleaded guilty to felony marijuana possession, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Shaughnessy said although there are no excuses for what Coleman did, she believed at the time it was her only option. “She’s a young mother of two children and has another child on the way,” the defense attorney said. “She has a 5-year-old and a 10-year-old. The 10-year-old is visually impaired and autistic. It is hard for her to work because taking care of her daughter is a full-time job.”
Coleman said she was hired to deliver the marijuana to the seller through a friend of a friend. The first time, she agreed to pick up a package of rice at UPS for free to test out the process. The shipment arrived from California and was going to be sold in the Cleveland area, officials said. “Do you understand how big a problem this is in the United States?” said the judge. “You know you were part of this drug trafficking ring.”
Assistant Lake County Prosecutor Nick Giegerich said Coleman’s baby will stay with her at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, and the other two children will be raised by a relative.
Coleman has prior convictions in Cuyahoga County for a 2016 receiving stolen property incident involving a cell phone and a 2012 forgery case. She received probation in both those cases. “How do you stop making poor decisions?” O’Donnell asked her. “You keep getting caught. It doesn’t seem like you’re very good at this criminal stuff.”
By Tracey Read, The News-Herald