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Drug 'mule' gets reduced sentence for assisting state

Mar. 28—LIMA — A Lima woman who testified in court last month against the alleged mastermind of a large-scale narcotics distribution network on Thursday received favorable consideration for her cooperation.

Sidney Jackson will serve four years in prison after pleading guilty to a variety of felony drug crimes.

Jackson was indicted by an Allen County grand jury in February 2023 on nine first-degree felony charges, including the aggravated funding of drug trafficking, three counts of trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound, two counts of trafficking in cocaine, two counts of possession of a fentanyl-related compound and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

She faced the possibility of nearly 100 years behind bars if convicted on all counts, with the maximum possible sentences imposed. Three of the counts were dismissed as part of a negotiated plea deal with prosecutors that was executed Thursday. The deal included an agreed-upon four-year minimum prison sentence for Jackson.

Judge Terri Kohlrieser sentenced the Lima woman to prison terms of four to six years on each of the six remaining counts and ordered those sentences to be served concurrently.

Jackson testified last month in the Allen County jury trial of Travon Thomas, who Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Thines called the "mastermind behind a fentanyl pill-pressing operation (who) flooded this community with poison."

Jackson testified at the trial and said Thomas was "like a family member" whom she called Buddy. She told jurors that since 2021 she had been "working with Buddy running drugs." She said her duties included delivering drugs to Thomas's customers, as well as counting fentanyl pills that were produced by pill presses.

She testified on one occasion she was paid $10,000 for a trip to Columbus to repair a pill press and to bring fentanyl pills back to Lima. The payment was never made after Jackson was arrested by investigators upon her return to Lima that same day.

Jackson told jurors she received no "deals or promises" in exchange for her testimony.

Prior to sentencing on Thursday, Thines said a relatively light sentence was being requested for Jackson "given the level of her cooperation throughout the investigation (into Thomas' activities)," including her testimony at trial.

Defense attorney Charles Koenig said Jackson "made some very bad mistakes but is here today to take responsibility for them."

Jackson wiped away tears as she apologized to the court "for my actions," to her family "for putting you through this" and to her young daughter "for me being away from her."

A jury found Thomas guilty last month of 10 felony drug charges. He was sentenced to a minimum of 45 years in prison.