A tearful Janese Carter gushed a quick goodbye to her family and was whisked away to prison.
The former Wendover police officer was sentenced to serve one to 15 years Monday for distributing cocaine to an undercover informant at the Crossroads Mall last February.Most of her more than 50 family members who packed the 3rd District Courtroom broke into tears as bailiffs handcuffed the
wife of former Wendover Police Chief June A. Carter after the sentencing.
"Remember who you are. Remember who you are!" her mother cried as her daughter was escorted from the courtroom to be transported directly to the Utah State Prison.
"Take care of my babies for me," Carter cried back. She then turned toward her husband. "I love you, June."
The mother of two children, ages 3 and 1, Janese Carter told 3rd District Judge Kenneth Rigtrup she was sorry she committed the crimes and said she was ready to accept full responsibility for her actions. She also apologized to the law enforcement community for tainting its reputation.
"That's something they have to fight for every day, to just garner a small amount of respect," she said. "I am willing to pay the consequences . . . I ask for mercy."
But Rigtrup said that because she had violated the public trust as an officer, he had no alternative but to sentence her to a prison term of one to 15 years and to an additional one-year term in
prison to run consecutively for using a firearm in the crime.
Her attorney, Robert Michael Archuleta, said his client turned to distributing cocaine from the Wendover police evidence lab because of "great financial and emotional stress." He said her lifelong dream of being a police officer was shattered when she was arrested and subsequently fired from her job.
"I assure you my client has paid a tremendous price for this crime."
But Assistant Attorney General Wendy Hufnagle balked at Archuleta's requests for home confinement and community service. "She is an antisocial and manipulative person. I believe she is dangerous."
Hufnagle said Carter sold narcotics on 20 to 30 separate occasions between April 1989 and Feb. 27, 1990, when she was arrested at a downtown parking lot for exchanging six ounces of cocaine and four ounces of purported methamphetamines for $16,000.
"As a police officer and evidence custodian, she violated the public trust," she said.
The prosecutor also questioned that Carter turned to selling drugs because she was under financial stress. She said the defendant used the drug money to buy a car for her stepson, a new color television, an electronic keyboard and to pay back money she had embezzled from the police evidence room.
"We're not talking about buying groceries here," Hufnagle said.
Janese Carter threatened to kill the informant and her son, threatened her job and threatened to arrest her - sometimes at gunpoint, Hufnagle said. When she was arrested, she had a loaded 9mm revolver on the car seat, partially concealed by her leg.
"If that firearm was not being used as a threat to the informant, what was it doing there?" she said.
Archuleta asked the judge to place Janese Carter in a county jail because, as a former police officer, her life could be in danger at the prison. Rigtrup said he would ask the Board of Pardons to consider that.
Although the board has the ultimate say, state guidelines for such a sentence suggest she serve 39 months. "Actual time served in all probability will be less than that," her attorney said.
June Carter, 35, is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Prosecutors say he knew there was cocaine in the trunk of his patrol car, which was searched after the arrest of his wife.
He faces trial on that charge next month and also faces charges of witness tampering and three counts of illegal wire-tapping.