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Mendenhall pleads guilty to neglect in 2017 heroin bust

Sentencing hearing set for Oct. 15

A Newton woman has pleaded guilty to four counts of neglect of a dependent person in connection with November 2017 heroin distribution bust on the city’s northwest side.

Crystal L. Mendenhall, 31, made the plea during a hearing Monday in Jasper County District Court. Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 15, 2018. Mendenhall still has nine counts outstanding in the case, including five counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Mendenhall’s four counts of neglect are all class C felonies, punishable in Iowa by up to 10 years in prison.

Six Jasper County residents were arrested in the bust last year at 715 W. Fourth St. N., following the execution of a search warrant by the M.I.N.E. Task Force’s east division along with local law enforcement. Officers discovered heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription pills and drug paraphernalia at the home.

Jasper County Lt. Aaron Groves, who serves on the M.I.N.E. Task Force, told the Newton Daily News in November of 2017 a “bad batch” of heroin was being dealt and used in Newton, which caused reported overdoses. Groves said those people were treated with Narcan, a prescription medicine used to block the effects of Opioids.

Tyler Gilbert, 24, of Newton, pleaded guilty July 16 to intent to deliver methamphetamine, a class D felony, for his role in the distribution ring. District court judge Randy Hefner also ordered Gilbert to pay a $5,000 fine.

According to reports from the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, Gilbert attempted to dump 1 gram of meth out of his bedroom window as task force officers arrived, halting the heroin operation after six heroin overdoses were reported in the city in a one-week period.

Gilbert still has 13 counts outstanding in the case, including four counts of neglect or abandonment of a dependent child.

Mendenhall had the same cache of charges as Gilbert. 

Groves said in November officers learned Gilbert and Mendenhall were distributing heroin and other controlled substances in Newton.

Local law enforcement worked on the heroin investigation for about two months. The reason behind the expedited search warrant, Groves said, was to quickly remove the harmful controlled substances from Newton.

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