QUINCY -- A Quincy woman who was one of four people arrested last year in trafficking cannabis into the city faces up to six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to a reduced charge.
Maqualla M. Gholston will be eligible for probation after pleading guilty Tuesday in Adams County Circuit Court to one count of unlawful possession with intent to deliver cannabis.
The original charge of cannabis trafficking was amended to reflect the terms of her negotiated plea agreement.
Gholston's attorney, Casey Schnack, said that Gholston will receive an evaluation for TASC probation, a form that erases the conviction from a record if successfully completed, and also will receive a recommendation for impact incarceration, usually referred to as "boot camp," if sentenced to prison.
Gholston, 26, was arrested Aug. 26, along with Deamontae L. Hill, 20; Porter H. Peoples, 28; Ebony N. Werner, 29; and Rashad L. Snoddy, 26; after two traffic stops in Quincy, where police found about 85 pounds of cannabis with an estimated street value of $400,000.
First Assistant State's Attorney Todd Eyler said a confidential source provided information to law enforcement about a group of people who would drive to California to buy cannabis and return to Quincy to distribute it.
He said through search warrants of car rental records and cellphone records, investigators were able to determine that the group had driven out west, and on Aug. 26, a Mazda SUV and Jeep Cherokee were spotted driving in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, by officers with the West Central Illinois Task Force.
Upon arrival in Quincy, Eyler said the vehicles, including one driven by Gholston, were pulled over, and a police K-9 alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle, and officers discovered about 38,450 grams of cannabis.
Gholston will return to court May 28 for sentencing. She has been free since Oct. 31 on a recognizance bond, which was granted to allow her to enter a drug treatment program.
She is the third person to enter a guilty plea in the case.
Werner pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession with intent to deliver cannabis on Feb. 7. Sentencing is set for May 3, and she remains free after posting $300 bond, which was granted to allow her to enter residential drug treatment.
Snoddy pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession with intent to deliver cannabis on Feb. 11, with sentencing set for Monday. He is free on bond after posting $2,000.
Peoples is set to return to court May 22 for a status hearing. He is free on bond after posting $3,000 in January.
Hill is set to return to court May 1 and remains free after posting $4,000 bond in November. He also faces an additional cannabis delivery-related charge in a March arrest. Hill posted bond in that case.