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Cape daycare owner charged with distribution of controlled substance
The owner of a Cape Girardeau day care has been charged with distribution of a controlled substance near a school, with prosecutors alleging Tuesday that she sold eight pain pills within view of at least one of the eight children that were in her care.
Keisha M. McReynolds, 37, was in custody at the Cape Girardeau County Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond following her arrest Monday on the class A felony, which upon conviction, carries a possible punishment of up to 30 years in prison. A new misdemeanor charge was filed Tuesday that claims McReynolds knowingly wrote a bad check.
Associate Judge Gary Kamp applied special conditions to the bond that if she comes up with the money -- not likely, her lawyer said -- then she was not to be in the presence of any child that was not related to her.
No arraignment had been set yet Tuesday because McReynolds' lawyer, Malcolm Montgomery, quickly filed for a change of judge. When reached at his office, he declined to elaborate as to his rationale, but said that an arraignment will be set after Presiding Judge Benjamin Lewis assigns the case to either Judge Michael Bullerdieck or Judge Scott Thomsen.
As to the merits of the case, Montgomery said that he had yet to review its specifics. He did note that she had no prior criminal history before this incident.
"She seems like a real nice lady," Montgomery said. "Again, I don't know the circumstances. I don't think it's a matter of selling drugs to children. I know it's a very serious offense because of that fact that allegedly narcotics were sold out of the day care or within proximity."
Even if his client found the special conditions acceptable, he said he doesn't foresee McReynolds being able to come up with the $100,000 needed to make bail.
"She's in jail and I expect her to be there for quite some time," he said.
McReynolds' day care, Beautiful Beginnings, was closed last week by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services after the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force relayed that an investigation revealed that McReynolds allegedly sold 16 hydrocodone pills for $60 to a Missouri State Highway Patrol confidential informant.
The probable-cause statement says that the informant bought the 10-milligram pills from McReynolds in the day care during business hours and while eight children were present -- including one that was in proximity during the buy. The drug transaction was recorded, according to the statement that was prepared by task force agent Mike Alford.
Missouri's so-called drug-free zone statute says the crime of drug distribution near a school is committed when someone distributes or delivers any controlled substance to a person within 2,000 feet of a secondary school, public vocational school, a private community college, college or university or school bus.
The statute doesn't specifically mention day cares and, on Tuesday, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said that he could not answer the question of whether the law applies to day cares. Assistant prosecutor Julie Hunter filed the charges, Swingle said, and that he did not personally research the matter himself.
Normally, sales of a controlled substance is a B felony but is elevated to an A felony when near a school. If Hunter can cite case law where defendants have been prosecuted in cases like this, the charge will stay. If not, the charge could be dropped to the lower charge, which carries a punishment of five to 15 years in prison.
On Tuesday, McReynolds saw a new charge added, one that claims she wrote a bad check to Kidd's convenience store for about $70. That misdemeanor charge carries a punishment of one day to one year in the county jail or a fine no greater than $1,000.
James McReynolds, the defendant's husband, declined to comment Tuesday, except to say he had little to do with the day-to-day operation of the day care. An employee at the day care at 2625 Hopper Road also declined to comment when reached.
At the time of Keisha McReynold's arrest, the day care was already in danger of being closed by the state for several violations, including adult-to-child ratio, caregivers not remaining in rooms while the children were napping and for requiring parents to bring in milk when the day care was already being reimbursed with state funds for milk.
2625 Hopper Road, Cape Girardeau, MO