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Sherry Johnston, Levi's mother, is sentenced to 3 years

Megan Holland

Sherry Johnston was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for dealing the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, who is the father of former Gov. Sarah Palin's grandchild, Tripp.

Johnston made a deal with prosecutors to plead to a single felony count in exchange for dropping five other felony drug dealing charges against her. The deal called for the 42-year-old Wasilla woman to be sentenced to three years of prison time plus three years of probation, which is what the judge gave her.

Johnston received less time than the normal five to eight years for a second-degree felony drug charge because the amount she was dealing was so small.

Johnston is slated to serve her sentence at Alaska's only female prison, Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River. She has been at Hiland since she pleaded guilty in August.

Her attorney, Rex Butler, has filed paperwork with the state Department of Corrections to get Johnston out of prison and on an ankle-monitoring program for her three-year sentence. If she qualifies, Johnston could serve her time at her home in Wasilla.

With a criminal history of only one misdemeanor DUI charge in 1993, Corrections officials say she is a good candidate for the program.

Johnston was charged in December 2008 with dealing OxyContin, a popular and highly addictive recreational drug known as "hillbilly heroin." The pills were her own, prescribed to her by her doctor.

She received the pills in the mail, then unknowingly sold a portion to police informants, according to court records. The drug dealings took place via cell and text messages, with rendezvous in the parking lots of Fred Meyer and Target stores.

In a phone interview after the sentencing, Butler called his client "a poster child for health care reform." He said his client was selling some of the drugs to get money to pay for other pain medications that her insurance company was cutting her off from. He would not identify her insurance company.

Johnston has said she suffers from chronic pelvic pain stemming from past surgeries.

Levi Johnston, who recently posed for "Playgirl" magazine, was at the Friday morning sentencing in Palmer, fresh off from making rounds in Hollywood circles, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Find Megan Holland online at adn.com/contact/mholland or call 257-4343.


By MEGAN HOLLAND
mholland@adn.com