Alleged Penn Valley meth dealer facing federal indictment |

Alleged Penn Valley meth dealer facing federal indictment

A Penn Valley woman arrested on several occasions last year now is facing federal charges on the most recent of those cases, stemming from a November methamphetamine bust.

A criminal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court that charges Dawn Theresa Lee with possessing 50 grams of meth with intent to distribute.

That charge means Lee faces a potential sentence of 10 years to life, said Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

But Horwood cautioned that Lee has not yet been indicted by a grand jury and the charges could change.

No date has been scheduled for Lee's indictment, although it could be as soon as this Thursday.

In the federal complaint, DEA Agent Brian Nehring wrote that he was contacted by Nevada County Sheriff's Det. John Dzioba regarding Lee after her November arrest.

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Lee "has an extensive criminal history," Nehring wrote, including multiple felony convictions for grand theft and property crimes, as well as multiple arrests for possession of controlled substances for sale.

She had been arrested in June 2013 on charges of possessing drug paraphernalia, being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and destroying evidence, according to the complaint. She then was arrested in early August 2013 on petty theft of drug paraphernalia charges.

On Aug. 12, 2013, Nevada County Sheriff's deputies conducted a compliance search of Lee's residence in the 19000 block of Penn Valley Drive.

Lee was under the influence of a controlled substance, according to the complaint. During a search of the residence, Dzioba reportedly located approximately 22 grams of meth in seven separate bags, a digital scale, packaging, and $700 in her wallet.

Lee reportedly admitted that the meth belonged to her and was arrested on charges that included possession of a controlled substance for sale.

Members of the Nevada County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force served a search warrant at Lee's residence in November, Nehring wrote.

During a search of the master bedroom where meth was reportedly found before, Dzioba reportedly located 116 grams of suspected meth in two bags — the primary bag contained about a quarter-pound.

He also reportedly found a digital scale and packaging material, as well as $1,200 in cash.

"During a recorded interview, Lee admitted that the methamphetamine belonged to her and that she was obtaining it in quarter-pound or more quantities on a regular basis for distribution," Nehring wrote in the complaint.

Lee had five open cases in Nevada County Superior Court, including one from a March arrest after she was pulled over by a deputy and reportedly was found with 54 grams of meth and drug paraphernalia.

According to Deputy District Attorney Oliver Pong, those local cases now will be postponed, due to the federal warrant.

The warrant currently includes only the November arrest, but federal prosecutors might add a second case at Lee's indictment, Pong said.

That would still leave several cases open here — including two that she had taken plea agreements on. Lee currently is set to return to court in Nevada County on May 8.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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