A woman who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute narcotics last month will be spending the next few years in law school, not prison. Records show that a federal judge in Texas sentenced Chelsea Maddill to three years of supervised release on Jan. 9 with the condition that she "participate and complete an educational program designed to receive a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree," ValleyCentral reports. Madill pleaded guilty in August 2019. Investigators said she worked with a drug trafficking organization that transported cocaine from Mexico to Texas and cities in northern states. DEA agents said they found 62 pounds of cocaine in a tractor-trailer after watching Madill direct the driver to a warehouse loading dock.
Prosecutors said cell phone records linked Madill to the drug trafficking organization and she flew to Mexico to meet its leader in 2018. "I think this was a life lesson for her," Chief US District Judge Randy Crane tells the Washington Post. "And she’ll be a lawyer that really contributes to our society." Crane says Madill enrolled in law school after her guilty plea, motivated by the hard time she had finding affordable representation after she was indicted. "They were all quoting her large sums—I want to say like $50,000 and up—to represent her,” Crane says. "And so she couldn’t afford counsel, and this motivated her to try and become a lawyer."
Crane says sentencing hearings were delayed multiple times partly because of the pandemic, but also to give Madill times to provide documents from her Florida law school, including a letter from the dean. Prosecutors did not object to the sentence. "I hope she's successful in her legal career," Crane says. "And that I don’t ever see her again in my court." (Read more sentencing stories.)