AUBURN – Prosecutors likely dropped a felony charge against a woman arrested in January during a bust on an illegal drug lab in exchange for her testimony against her boyfriend, the man’s lawyer said.
Donna Marie Pagnani, 23, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.
Her sentence, worked out by prosecutors and her lawyer, was postponed to September. She faces up to a year in jail. Other charges including unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs – a felony – and possession were dropped.
Meanwhile, her boyfriend, the father of their 3-year-old daughter, is in jail awaiting trial on several felony drug charges stemming from the discovery of an alleged methamphetamine lab in their Lewiston apartment. His trial is expected to be over before Pagnani’s sentencing.
“No doubt, her sentence was contingent on her testimony against Louis,” said his lawyer, Verne Paradie Jr. “That’s my suspicion.”
It’s unlikely prosecutors would have dismissed all the drug charges against her and let her plead to a misdemeanor had she not agreed to testify as one of their witnesses, Paradie said. He said he was surprised by the apparent agreement.
The prosecutor could not be reached for comment. Pagnani’s lawyer, Allan Lobozzo, said he couldn’t comment on the terms of the plea agreement.
Pagnani appeared in street clothes Wednesday during her plea in Androscoggin County Superior Court. She has been free on bail.
Their daughter, along with several other people living in the Sabattus Street apartment building, were taken to a hospital for observation following the Jan. 25 raid. The making of methamphetamine, a central nervous system stimulant considered even more addictive than crack, can create toxic gases.
Their daughter was later taken into state custody.
Pagnani’s bail conditions included taking parenting classes twice a week, as well as participating in a drug treatment program and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She also was expected to undergo a psychological evaluation, according to court records.
She was ordered not to have any contact with Rubino or Joseph May, 33, of Turner, who was charged with aggravated trafficking and conspiracy in April in connection with a raid where police recovered items used in the making of methamphetamine. Police also linked him with Rubino and Pagnani.