Salem woman found guilty of making meth in home near elementary school

SALEM – A 51-year-old Salem woman police said was “a known manufacturer of methamphetamine” pleaded guilty today to four charges associated with cooking meth in the basement of a home near West Salem Elementary School.

Tactical officers said the fumes were so heavy from the “one-pot cooking process” Linda Gail Mason was making in two batches on North Bruffey Street during a school day on May 9 that officers had to break a window to let the fumes out, and to call in a special decontamination unit. That information was part of Salem Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Bowers’ summary for Salem Circuit County Judge William Broadhurst at Mason’s Jan. 30 trial.

Officers waited to execute the search warrant and raid until after school was out for the day at West Salem and Salem High School, Bowers said.

Mason could be sentenced on March 27 to as much as 95 years in prison on the four charges of manufacturing meth, possessing it, having materials to make meth and conspiracy to make meth, Salem Circuit Court Judge William Broadhurst pointed out. Two other charges were not prosecuted, in exchange for her guilty plea, Bowers said.

Although the meth cooking operation was within 1,000 feet of West Salem and the high school, that charge and another of gun possession were not prosecuted. Bowers explained after court that the 1,000-feet law should be changed because it states the drug offense has to be on public property or property with public access – which the house’s basement did not have.

Bowers said Salem Police detectives had been observing Mason and two co-defendants who have already pleaded guilty, Kenneth Jakob Shelton and his father, Kenneth Junior Shelton. It was the elder Shelton’s home in the 300 block of Bruffey was where the drug cooking was taking place when it was raided on May 9, 2013.

The younger Shelton and his father are both due to be sentenced on Feb. 13, after a pre-sentencing report. They pled guilty in October to the same four charges that Mason did. Shelton’s father has an additional charge he pleaded guilty to, of having a firearm while possessing drugs.

For more on the meth-manufacturing case, read the printed version of the Feb. 6 issue of the Salem Times-Register, available at the newspaper’s office at 1633 W. Main St. in Salem, and in news boxes and newsstands in stores in Salem.