A 74-year-old man in Clearlake Oaks and was arrested last week with a friend, and a smorgasbord or drugs in his Ford Explorer. Perhaps he didn’t realize the risk he was taking as he drove through town late at night with a broken tail light. But a patrol deputy took notice and made an enforcement stop at 11:55 pm.
The deputy addressed the driver, Thomas Earl Sheppard from Chico, the college town about 100 miles northeast of Clear Lake in Butte County. According to Steve Brooks of the Lake County Sheriff’s office, the passenger in the vehicle was 40-year-old Sheri Lynn Hann. After identifying the pair, the deputy called for a records check, and found that Sheppard was on searchable felony probation, and that Hann had an outstanding warrant, both of them out of Butte County.
Sheppard lists his residence on Laurel Street in Chico, and Hann is said to be a current resident of Lucerne, a community just north of Clearlake Oaks along the eastern shore of the lake. However, when Hann was arrested on the day after Christmas last year for vehicle theft, she listed her residence as also being on Laurel in Chico, within walking distance of Sheppard’s home.
When the deputy requested Ms. Hann to step out of the vehicle, the odor or marijuana coming from inside became quite evident. She gave consent to search her and her property, but nothing identified as contraband was found, and the deputy simply issued her a citation for her outstanding warrant.
The search of the vehicle, however, revealed a lot. A hypodermic syringe and two glass pipes – the kind commonly used for smoking methamphetamine – were found in the center console of the Explorer. A digital scale had been placed under the driver’s seat, and in a pouch behind the passenger seat were four one ounce bags of processed marijuana. A fanny pack in the front seat was found to contain a Camel cigarette pack with a well used glass meth pipe. There was also a ziplock bag with white crystal meth, and five bindles of a brown substance identified as heroin. A prescription pill bottle with Sheppard’s name held ten small bindles of crystal meth. Rounding out the contents of the fanny pack was a roll of twenty dollar bills.
Sheppard volunteered that he had sold two pounds of marijuana earlier that day for $2,000.00, and that most of the money was in that roll of twenties. (He had also paid some bills with it.) He explained that the heroin was from a connection in Oroville, a town just south of his home in Chico. He also said that he thought the white crystal powder was actually crack cocaine, not meth, and was for a friend. He said he himself smoked heroin, but does not use cocaine, and denied selling any narcotics beyond the marijuana he admitted to earlier.
The relationship between Sheppard and Hann was not clear. As a former neighbor if hers in Chico, it is possible he traveled out to her new residence to either sell the drugs he carried to her, or possibly a connection through her. In either case, they ran up against the Lake County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force, whose stated goal is to eradicate narcotics from the county and seize the profits and assets of drug traffickers. Their anonymous tip line, which has led to countless arrests, is 707-263-3663.
The final tally of evidence seized was 2.3 grams of meth, 5.1 grams of heroin, 4.29 ounces of marijuana, and $1,520.00 in cash, which was seized pending asset forfeiture if it is proven to be profit from illegal narcotics sales. Sheppard was booked at the Hill Road Correctional Facility on charges of possession of controlled substances, narcotics, and marijuana for sale, and possession of paraphernalia, along with probation violations. He was released on $25,000.00 bail.