By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A Quincy woman was sentenced to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections Wednesday in connection with two methamphetamine cases.
Patricia S. Ahern, 45, received seven years on a charge of unlawful methamphetamine manufacturing and three years on an unlawful possession of meth precursors charge. Because Ahern was out on bond at the time of her second arrest, her prison sentences have to be served consecutively.
Ahern was facing at least six years and could have been sentenced to up to 13 years by Judge Scott Walden as part of a February plea agreement.
Her attorney, Public Defender Todd Nelson, argued that Ahern should receive the minimum sentence. He said Ahern had completed a residential treatment program at Recovery Resources after an arrest in May.
Nelson said Ahern "had promise and potential." He said that she carried a 3.0 grade-point average when she attended John Wood Community College and became a certified nursing assistant.
First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha argued that Ahern should be subject to more than just the minimum and asked Walden for the 10-year sentence.
"I don't think the minimum sentence is appropriate with this case," Farha said. "Ms. Ahern has had the benefit of probation before. She has a long record of misdemeanor and felony convictions."
Farha pointed to five convictions Ahern has for driving while her license was suspended.
"That tells me the rules don't apply to Ms. Ahern," Farha said.
Ahern said she took responsibility for what she had done. Walden then tried to get an explanation out of Ahern why she did what she did to earn the charges.
Walden recounted how Ahern and Issac E. Baker entered a residence in the 600 block of Lind in the early morning hours of May 23. Thinking the house was vacant, the pair went to the basement so that they could make meth. Ahern was learning how to make the drug from Baker, Walden said. Walden said the basement was filled with sewage.
"That's a pretty low spot to be in," Walden said.
A neighbor reported smelling a strong, suspicious odor. The Quincy Police Department's Street Crimes Unit investigated the smell and talked to the people who lived at the house. They told police that no one should be in the basement.
Police said they accessed the cellar from the outside, and when they opened the door, smoke rolled out of the basement, and Ahern and Baker came out.
Ahern posted $200 bond in that case on June 13. She said she returned to the drug after being released from the residential treatment program at Recovery Resources. She said she returned to using drugs after returning to her residence and finding drugs and drug paraphernalia in her room that had been left there before her arrest.
On Oct. 25, Ahern allowed officers to search her mother's home on Quincy's north side, where they found items associated with methamphetamine ingestion. She has been lodged in the Adams County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond since.
"You committed some serious offenses and were given a wonderful opportunity to address the problem," Walden said. "That opportunity was squandered."
Baker, 33, pleaded guilty for his role in the May incident in July. He was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to unlawful participation in methamphetamine production.