A woman accused of possessing and distributing methamphetamine to fellow inmates in the Rock Island County Jail has pleaded guilty as part of a deal.

Tawny Phelps, 28, Sherrard, pleaded on June 4 to a count of possessing contraband in a penal institution, according to Rock Island County court records. As part of the negotiation with the Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s Office, three charges of delivering methamphetamine were dropped.

Authorities had accused Phelps of having methamphetamine on her cell block on April 5 and sharing it with three other women.

Steve VenHuizen, chief deputy for the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office, said at the time that staff work to control contraband, but occasionally inmates still find ways to bring banned items inside. In this instance, jail staff found out an inmate might have brought drugs in and conducted a search on her. Less than a gram of meth was recovered. Further investigation led the staff to the three other inmates and all four were charged. Investigators believe it was an isolated incident.

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Phelps chose to waive a presentence investigation during the June 4 hearing and was sentenced to four years in an Illinois Department of Corrections institution, court records state. When they are performed, presentence investigations result in a report on a defendant’s background and criminal history that a judge can use to help determine the appropriate sentence.

It was unclear from the court record whether Phelps would receive day-for-day credit on her sentence. When this is applied, a person ends up serving about half of the sentence listed.

The cases against the other three women — Carly Baguss, 27, Davenport; Chelsea Ehlts, 36, Lowden, Iowa; and April Sanders, 35, Davenport — were still pending as of Wednesday, records state. All three face a single count of possession of contraband in a penal institution.

All three remained in custody, according to court records. Baguss and Ehlts were being held on $40,000 bail, and Sanders, $10,000. Each would have to post about 10 percent of their bails to be released.


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