By JOSH NEWTON
Three people are in federal custody accused of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine in a home where a toddler was present or living.
The federal charges are a follow-up to the recent Cherokee County arrest of Brenda Toniece Vann, 54, who is charged locally with child neglect and endeavoring to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance.
Vann was arrested in February when her 2-year-old grandchild was taken to a local hospital and treated for chemical burns allegedly inflicted by meth lab chemicals in Vann’s home. Vann and the child’s mother, 23-year-old Lisa Autumn Shiann Creech, denied knowing how the baby had been burned, but investigators said Vann left the hospital where the toddler was being treated and went home to move a meth lab and accompanying items into a vehicle.
Investigators surmised Vann became worried authorities would visit her home and discover the meth lab components. Police later received warrants and searched Vann’s home and a vehicle outside the home, where they allegedly located a number of drug-related items and a meth lab.
Vann was jailed on a $75,000 bond, and just a few days later was arrested again in Tahlequah when officers said she was found to be in possession of meth, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.
Federal prosecutors have now charged Vann, Creech and 20-year-old Andrew Kelli Braddock – Creech’s boyfriend – with several crimes, including conspiracy to manufacture meth, manufacturing meth, endangering a human life while illegally manufacturing controlled substances, and manufacturing meth on premises where children are present or residing.
The three are accused in the federal indictment of conspiring together to manufacture 50 grams or more of meth beginning in August 2012 and continuing until late January.
Prosecutors say the three created a “substantial risk of harm” to the toddler who was at the home.
The toddler was treated and later released to child-welfare officials.
According to U.S. Attorney Mark Green’s office, the federal charges are a result of an investigation by the District 27 District Attorney’s Drug Task Force, the Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Conspiracy to manufacture meth and manufacturing meth are each punishable by five to 40 years in prison and up to an $8 million fine; endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance is punishable by up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000; and manufacturing meth on premises where children are present or residing is punishable by no more than 20 years in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed, along with a $250,000 fine.