PORT ANGELES — A 70-year-old Maple Valley grandmother charged with trying to smuggle more than an ounce of hard drugs into Clallam Bay Corrections Center for her son was sentenced Wednesday to 180 days on electronic home monitoring.
Pauline Jeannette Beal pleaded guilty in Clallam County Superior Court to attempting to deliver a controlled substance, a Class B felony.
She could have been sentenced to 365 days under the standard sentence range.
The maximum term is 10 years.
That Beal has sole custody of her 9-year-old granddaughter was a factor in her agreeing to the plea bargain, according to her lawyer, Morgan Lake of Seattle.
Beal, who works for a wholesale paper supplier, had been charged with three counts of possession with intent to deliver heroin, methamphetamine and Suboxone, all Class B felonies, and third-degree introducing contraband into a detention or secure facility, a misdemeanor. The drugs weighed 1.38 ounces, according to the probable cause statement.
Beal said she had picked up the packages for her son from a person she did not know and thought they contained tobacco, according to the probable cause statement.
Judge Simon Barnhart followed the recommendation of Lake and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steve Johnson, converting a 180-day jail sentence into that duration under electronic home monitoring.
According to a probable cause statement, authorities learned Beal was bringing drugs to the prison after they listened to a recorded conversation between her and her son, Michael Donavan Beal, 45, of Maple Valley.
He is serving a 23-year sentence on drug and first-degree manslaughter charges.
His mother was arrested May 17, 2019, after a Department of Corrections K9 discovered the drugs while she was being processed to visit him. They were hidden in her waistband area.
“I am not here to make any excuses for my actions that bring me here,” she told Barnhart, tearfully apologizing to her family.
“My desire moving forward is to be the best possible parent I can be for my granddaughter. My husband and I are all that she has. I will do everything within my power to be the right kind of example for the future.”
Johnson said if her conversation with her son had not been monitored, the drugs would have been introduced into an extremely volatile environment.
“Prison is the last thing you want that kind of a substance circulating through,” Johnson said.
Beal had told authorities she didn’t know the package contained illegal drugs; she thought it was tobacco. She said she knew tobacco is a contraband substance in prisons.
“This was Ms. Beal making a very bad decision in concert with her son,” Johnson said.
Lake said Beal “has certainly taken ownership” of her actions.
“If Ms. Beal is not in her granddaughter’s life, the outcome for the state and her granddaughter would be horrible,” Lake said.
Barnhart said he appreciated that Beal was holding herself accountable for her actions.
“The best example I think that we can show to our children is accountability and taking responsibility for the choices we make, even if they’re bad choices and that may not reflect on us in the best possible light,” Barnhart told her.
“We’ll hope to the extent that there are lessons to be learned from this kind of experience that can be shared with a 9-year-old, I don’t know how you do that, but that she at least learns the importance of standing up and owning your choices.”
As part of the sentence, Beal will not be allowed to have any contact with her son or with any correctional institution or inmate for five years.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.