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26 indicted: Major conspiracy charges unsealed in federal court

updated: 3/15/2012 2:15 PM

A federal grand jury in Benton has charged 26 individuals with methamphetamine-related offenses, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen R. Wigginton announced Wednesday.

The indictment returned by the grand jury was suppressed until then in order that arrest warrants for those charged could be executed.

Those charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine are Gary D. "Chuck" Parini, 38, of Bush; Brittaney M. Howell, Johnston City; Jennifer L. Wilkie, 40, West Frankfort; Michael E. Stroud, 42, Carterville; Elaina M. Holland, 32, Freeman Spur; Craig E. Stumpe, 46, Freeman Spur; and Nicholas C. Biggs, 22, Royalton.

Those charged with providing pseudoephedrine pills to methamphetamine manufacturers are Richard E. Larson, 51, Benton; Amy J. Melvin, 34, West Frankfort; Amy J. Innis, 37, Zeigler; Joshua Murphy, 33, Zeigler; Christa L. Gray, 26, Valier; Melody J. Kostanek, 38, Marion; Jason E. Curry, 40, Christopher; Rebecca S. Pena, 55, Johnston City; Melissa A. Pena, 21, Johnston City; Lee. Haught, Johnston City; Jeri Haught, 43, Johnston City; Sheila R. Haught, 53, Johnston City; Sean J. Riley, 30, Johnston City; Casey A. Riley, 29, Johnston City; Tina M. Monteith, 29, Herrin; Devin D. Duncan, 28, Herrin; Betty Colp, 24, Herrin; Tina K. Hill, 46, Creal Springs; and Gynelle L. Ledbetter, 41, Creal Springs.

Those charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine face a minimum term of 10 years to a maximum term of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. Those charged with providing pseudoephedrine pills to others face a term of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

Wigginton noted that high praise should be given to the many federal and state agencies who all cooperated and coordinated their efforts in bringing this case.

"Our prosecution, with the assistance of our state partners, is an attempt to help put an end to the misery brought about in Southern Illinois by those who traffic in methamphetamine," Wigginton said.

Investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Illinois State Police, Southern Illinois Drug Task Force, United States Marshals Service, Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Williamson County Sheriff's Office, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Perry County Sheriff's Office, Hurst Police Department, West City Police Department, the Williamson County State's Attorney's Office, the Franklin County State's Attorney's Office, the Jackson County State's Attorney's Office, and the Perry County State's Attorney's Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Leggans.

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