Woman sentenced after 400 grams of pot found

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 23, 2016

EDGARD — A LaPlace woman authorities said was connected to a vehicle with more than 400 grams of marijuana was sentenced this week to five years in jail, of which four and half years were suspended.

Christina McGuire

Christina McGuire

Christina McGuire, 30, was sentenced Monday by 40th Judicial District Court Judge Mary Hotard Becnel, according to the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court’s office.

The Court’s sentence maintains McGuire must pay a $1,500 fine, $315 in court costs and $550 to the public defender’s office. McGuire was also given two years of active probation, required to earn her GED and submit to drug counseling.

According to District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut’s office, McGuire’s sentence followed a one-day trial Feb. 18 where a St. John Parish jury found the defendant guilty of possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.

Dinvaut’s office said McGuire was arrested March 19, 2014, when a vehicle she was riding in was stopped for a traffic violation by St. John Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents, who found the vehicle contained more than 412 grams of marijuana. Police said it had a street value estimated at $1,600.

Dinvaut’s office said McGuire’s accomplice and the vehicle’s driver Allen Zydallas told authorities McGuire intended to sell the marijuana in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Former Detective Heather Cruz testified Zydallas was suspected of drug trafficking when the traffic stop occurred. Zydallas testified against McGuire and admitted he gave the marijuana to McGuire with the intent that she would distribute the drugs in St. John the Baptist Parish.

According to Dinvaut’s office, the defense called McGuire to the stand, where she denied knowing marijuana was present in the vehicle. On cross-examination, Dinvaut said Assistant District Attorney J. Philip Prescott Jr. challenged the defendant’s version of the events and discredited her story.

Prescott led the prosecution with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Amy Richard. McGuire was represented by Public Defender Eric Goza.

When the Sheriff’s Office announced McGuire’s arrest in 2014, authorities said it resulted from a month-long collaborative investigation by the narcotics divisions of St. John the Baptist and Tangipahoa Parishes.

Over the course of the investigation, detectives said they learned large amounts of marijuana were being transported from Zydallas’ residence in Ponchatoula to St. John the Baptist Parish.

Based on the findings of the traffic stop, St. John Parish detectives contacted Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics detectives and the cooperative investigation led to the execution of a search warrant at Zydallas’ residence in Ponchatoula.

As a result of the search, agents located approximately 7.25 pounds of marijuana inside the residence, approximately 50 grams of cocaine, prescription medication, digital scales, packaging material and cash in the amount of $4,644. The value of the narcotics and cash exceeded $12,900.

At the time of the search, Sandra Ann Zydallas, 35, and a juvenile child were home at the residence.

Sandra Ann Zydallas was arrested and the child was placed in the custody of a family member. Detectives later learned two other juveniles lived at the residence. All of the narcotics seized from the residence were located where any one of the children could have accessed them and harmed themselves.

McGuire was booked with distribution/manufacture of schedule I controlled substance.