Crying, drug defendant Sheri L. Rister kissed her toddler-age son good-bye Wednesday.
Just a few moments later, a Huron County sheriff's deputy handcuffed the rural Norwalk woman. From the Huron County Jail, Rister will be transported to prison to serve an 11-month sentence.
Rister pleaded guilty in late August to possession of heroin. The conviction is in connection with a May 21 drug bust by the Huron County Sheriff's Office at her home at 1180 Peru Hollow Road. Claude E. Reed, 31, was also arrested on the same charge. On Aug. 23, he was sentenced to 22 months in prison for two counts of possession of heroin.
Deputies seized 13 balloons of heroin, $330 in cash, numerous prescription pills and two small bags of marijuana as evidence. The 13 balloons of heroin have a street value of about $400. Members of the Monroeville, New London, Wakeman and Willard police departments were involved in the investigation.
"Claude Reed admitted to swallowing one of the balloons, so there was a total of 14 balloons," sheriff's Detective Josh Querin said soon after the bust.
"Reed was squatting in the Rister family shed," Huron County Public Defender David Longo said Wednesday about the living arrangements.
Rister was out on $6,000 bond before her sentencing hearing Wednesday. Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said Rister tested positive for methadone, opiates and several other drugs that morning.
"I'd say that's someone who is celebrating before their sentencing," Leffler told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway.
"No, I didn't go out partying because I knew what was coming," Rister told the judge a few minutes later.
The defendant also told the judge she wasn't sure what happened with Wednesday's positive drug screen -- unless the heroin she'd taken was combined with something else. Rister had tested positive for opiates and oxycodone Sept. 5.
"She is an addict. She has a serious drug problem. It will kill her if she doesn't get a handle on it," Longo said.
"It has interfered with her ability to be a wife and mother."
After hearing from both attorneys, Conway told Rister it's unfortunate she can't stay away from abusing drugs, but said he didn't think a relatively short time in a treatment center would do her enough good.
However, Rister agreed to participate in the substance abuse program in prison. That means she could be released after serving 80 percent of her 11-month prison sentence. Conway also said if the substance abuse program -- better known as the "risk reduction program" -- doesn't work, he'd consider releasing Rister early and placing her in a community-based corrections facility.
Rister's criminal history includes three prior trips to prison for drug-related crimes and various probation violations. In this case, Rister's driver's license was suspended for six months and she must pay $40 to the Huron County Sheriff's Office to cover the cost of drug testing.