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Woman sentenced for her part in smuggling drugs into prison

Published November 01. 2011 05:01PM

A Bloomsburg woman, who formerly resided in Palmerton, was sentenced in Carbon County court on Monday for her part in smuggling drugs into the county prison by using postage stamps.

Kristin M. Gemmel, 26, was sentenced by President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II to serve 28 days to one year in jail followed by 18 months probation. She was given credit for 28 days spent in a drug inpatient rehabilitation program and was immedidately paroled.

Gemmel pleaded guilty in August to one count of criminal use of a communication device, a felony three.

She was one of 11 persons arrested in March by agents of the state Attorney General's office and charged with smuggling the drug Suboxone into the prison in the inmates' mail.

At the time of the arrests District Attorney Gary F. Dobias called the arrests part of "Operation Postage Stamp." Prosecutors said the Suboxone, which is used to treat heroin addiction, and is commonly produced in pill form, but is now manufactured in thin, film-like strips, was smuggled in by putting the strips under the stamps on the mail to the inmates.

At the time of her plea she admitted to a phone call she received from her then boyfriend, Chad Hartsell, 29, from the prison arranging for the drug to be mailed to him. Hartsell was among the 11 arrested.

Gemmel told Nanovic after her arrest she entered the rehab program to address a drug addiction problem. She has also received medical help for deep depression and is on medication for it. She is also receiving drug counseling.

Assistant District Attorney Jean A. Engler said AG agents felt that Gemmel was the least involved in the operation of the 11 arrested. She said she also fully cooperated with authorities in the investigation.

Nanovic said he was imposing the short term with credit for the rehab placement because he felt she was the least involved, had addressed her drug problem and for her cooperation in the investigation.

In addition to the jail term and probation, Gemmel was also ordered to get both a mental health and drug and alcohol evaluations and follow any recommendations for treatment, supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, zero tolerance imposed on D&A use, submit to random drug testing, and have no contact with Hartzell, except concerning the child the two had together.

She must also pay court costs and a $50 per month supervision fee while on parole and probation.

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