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Firefighter seeks to withdraw plea in money laundering case

Updated: August 26, 2014 6:34AM



A Gary fire lieutenant is trying to take back her guilty plea to money laundering for a drug dealer after she discovered she would lose her job and pension because of it.

Lt. Sandra McGuire, a 19-year veteran, says in her motion to withdraw her plea, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, that she should be allowed to change her guilty plea because she didn’t know what would happen to her job when she reached the agreement with federal attorneys, which would render her plea involuntary.

McGuire pleaded in October 2012 to one count of money laundering in connection with a large drug ring that dealt thousands of pounds of marijuana in Northwest Indiana. Merrillville resident Dwayne Crawford, McGuire’s nephew, is considered one of the leaders of the ring.

According to court records, McGuire allowed Crawford to use her bank account to process his drug profits, although the government says it does not have evidence he paid McGuire to do this.

As part of her agreement with the government, federal attorneys have recommended she serve a year of home confinement, although federal sentencing guidelines recommend she serve 46 to 57 months.

However, McGuire says in her motion that she would have gone to trial if she knew she would lose her job because of a felony conviction.

A sentencing date has not been set yet for McGuire. U.S. District Judge James Moody is giving the government until Wednesday to respond to her motion.

McGuire is actually the second defendant in the case to seek to withdraw her guilty plea.

Lashon Sain, who has pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a monetary transaction derived from drug trafficking, also filed a motion Thursday to take back her plea.

The motion cites the plea deals for both McGuire and another defendant, Beverly Burks, which Sain claims are as good or better than her deal even though, the motion says, they are more culpable in the case than she was.

The government has dropped the charges against Burks.

Sain argues in the motion that McGuire’s role in the case lasted for several years, while Sain was a one-time participant when she helped Crawford use his drug profits to buy a car. Sain introduced Crawford to Burks, the motion says, who is the one who actually went with Crawford to buy the car by telling the car dealer she was the one buying the car, when it was actually Crawford.

Moody has given the government until Friday to respond to Sain’s motion.



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