Nancy Bell is not your typical grandma. Just ask the feds and the sheriff’s department in Lee County, Va.
Authorities say the 64-year-old Tennessee grandmother, who suffers from heart ailments, and her daughter Iris Gibson, 45, and granddaughter Misty Parker, 23, illegally trafficked in OxyContin. The powerful narcotic painkiller sometimes is referred to as “hillbilly heroin.”
Earlier this week, Bell pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va., to multiple counts of distributing OxyContin and maintaining a place for distribution of controlled substances. Her daughter and granddaughter had already pleaded guilty.
All are awaiting sentencing on June 8 before U.S. District Judge James P. Jones. All potentially face serious prison time.
Bell’s attorney, Brian Beck, an assistant federal public defender, declined in a phone interview with AOL News to say how his client feels about the whole predicament, particularly the prospect of her daughter and granddaughter heading off to prison.
“I don’t want to get into her personal comments,” he said of Bell, who lives by herself and is free pending sentencing. “I’ll reserve that for the court.”
However, he did say: “She’s a devoted mother and grandmother. She’s a kindly lady and she presently suffers from a serious medical illness. She has serious heart problems.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has a different view of Grandma Bell. Authorities say she traveled from her home in Maynardsville, Tenn., near the Tennessee-Virginia border, to her daughter’s home in Jonesville, Va., normally around the first and 15th of the month, to distribute the OxyContin.
That went on for five years, until December. She typically stayed two to three days each visit, authorities said.
Bell set up a distribution network, using her daughter and granddaughter and others.
During a joint investigation, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made undercover purchases of OxyContin from Bell and Gibson on three occasions, authorities said.
Officers found $1,776 in cash and 15 OxyContin pills and 13 pills of Endocet, a prescription pain reliever, during a raid on Gibson’s home July 30.
Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons told AOL News that at least some of Bell’s drug supply came from her and her husband’s prescriptions. Bell and her husband are estranged. He has not been charged in the case.
“We do see a lot of folks who are on fixed incomes who draw Medicaid, and they use their prescriptions to supplement their income,” he said.
But he added: “This is the first time I’ve seen three generations that were involved in the same drug distribution network.”