Tuesday, March 11, 2014
AUGUSTA -- A Pittston woman will spend the next 20 months in jail for dealing in cocaine.
Priscilla A. Batzell, 52, was sentenced Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court to five years in prison, with all but an initial 20 months suspended, and three years of probation.
She pleaded guilty Aug. 6 to five counts of unlawful trafficking in cocaine and one count of unlawful possession of cocaine, all in October and November 2011 in Augusta, Lewiston, Pittston and Waterville.
"It is clear this was a calculated decision by the defendant to sell drugs for profit," Justice John Nivison said prior to imposing sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Joelle Pratt said Batzell sold the cocaine to an undercover officer on separate dates, charging $1,750 for an ounce of high-grade cocaine. Pratt described one recorded conversation about a sale in which Batzell allegedly told the buyer that he could sell it for $2,250 and make $400 profit.
When Batzell was arrested in Lewiston on Nov. 7, 2011, she had more than $10,000 worth of cocaine with her, according to information from the Maine State Police.
Batzell's attorney, John Alsop, asked Nivison to impose a shorter sentence, saying Batzell had no prior criminal record and has not violated her bail conditions over the past year or more.
"Factually, this is very different from other cases where long sentences have been imposed," Alsop said.
Batzell, who was not in custody during the court hearing Monday, had three colors in her hair: blond around her head, pinkish-purple highlights in the middle and a long brunette braid. She told Nivison that she has been working to better herself since her arrest and has "used very poor judgment" in getting involved in the sale of cocaine, and never had sold such a large quantify previously.
"My personal use of cocaine was a means of dealing with my failing libido," she said, adding that she provided cocaine to a dying friend whose health seemed to improve while using it. "I do not see myself as a hardened criminal."
In November in the same courtroom, Justice Donald Marden rejected an eight-year sentence recommended by both the state and Alsop that would have limited Batzell's initial jail time to nine months in the county jail.
"Every bit of cocaine that comes into this state and is sold, high quality or not, brings death to those who use it," Marden said. "I will accept nothing less than a state prison sentence."
Batzell was ordered to report to jail on Monday to begin her sentence.
She also forfeited her 2005 Buick Rendezvous that the state said was used to transport the drugs as well as $2,363 in cash that the state said was drug money.
Batzell was fined $400 on each of the drug convictions, and ordered to pay $1,750 in restitution for the buy money and for chemical tests on the drugs.
Betty Adams -- 621-5631