Caldwell woman off to prison after violating probation in meth ring case

A Caldwell woman was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison after violating terms of her probation on a drug conviction.

Back in December, Victoria Whelan, 55, was placed on three years probation after pleading guilty to distributing methamphetamine as part of a meth ring. In February, Caldwell police charged her with misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was later detained for a probation violation in the drug case.

Whelan had faced up to 20 years in prison, but Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill sentenced her to the low end of sentencing guidelines on the original meth distribution charge. The range was 18 to 24 months.

Upon her release, Whelan will again face three years on probation. She will be subject to up to five drug tests per month while on probation.

Winmill also ordered her not to drink alcohol and to stay out of bars.

Three men also are imprisoned in the meth-ring case:

▪ Brian W. Cluff, 44, the ringleader, was sentenced last fall to nearly 27 years in prison. Cluff pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to distribute meth and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Cluff gave an undercover officer nearly 3 grams of meth as a free sample in January 2016. That led to the officer buying a pound of meth in one transaction and a half-pound in another.

Cluff, who had previous convictions for forgery and drug possession, told police he sold at least a pound of meth every week.

He is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Sheridan, Ore.

▪ John Paul Tate, 48, was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy. He faced between 20 years and life because of a 1999 meth conspiracy conviction.

He is serving his sentence at a prison in Anthony, Texas.

▪ Raymond J. Pruneau, 53, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

He was sentenced to 97 months in prison and is serving his time at a prison in San Pedro, Calif.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell