“Who would have thought that wanting a good education for my son would put me in this predicament?” McDowell lamented as she stood handcuffed before Superior Court Judge Frank Iannotti. “I have no regrets seeking a better education for him, I do regret my participation in this drug case.”
Last month the 34-year-old Bridgeport woman pleaded guilty in a Norwalk court to charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for illegally enrolling her 6-year-old son in Norwalk public school despite living here.
That case drew protests by residents and civil rights groups who claimed McDowell was being persecuted for her attempt to get a better education for her son.
Iannotti retorted Tuesday that the Norwalk case had nothing to do with why McDowell was before him.
“This case is about the convictions for the sale of narcotics to an undercover police officer,” the judge said. “I think you understand that because that is really the essence of what has gotten you into the predicament you find yourself today.”
On the two counts of sale of narcotics, the judge then sentenced her to 12 years, suspended after she serves five years and followed by five years probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with a five-year sentence she received in the Norwalk case.
“When you are released, go back to doing an honest living and become a role model for your son,” the judge added.
Tuesday’s hearing ended a highly charged case that put a spotlight on the city’s beleaguered school system and cries for changes in state legislation that makes it illegal for parents to send their children to schools in towns where they are not residents.
But support for McDowell dropped off after she was arrested by Bridgeport police in June and charged with selling marijuana and crack cocaine on two occasions to an undercover police officer outside her Dover Street home. Police said McDowell even interrupted her 6-year-old son’s birthday to sell the drugs.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michael DeJoseph had made strong efforts to separate the Norwalk case from the drug cases he was prosecuting.
In the end, both he and McDowell’s lawyer, Darnell Crosland, said they were happy with the resolution of the cases.
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