ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Misty Croslin will serve 25 years in prison for trafficking drugs, a St. Johns County judge ruled today.
The sentence is the minimum mandatory; she also will pay $500,000 and serve five years of probation.
She was charged with trafficking oxycodone, a prescription pain medication, but is likely better known for being the last known person to see 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings last year before her disappearance sparked a nationwide Amber Alert. Haleigh remains missing.
Croslin took the stand in her own defense, saying that she started selling drugs because she grew up poor. "It is wrong to drug deal, but when you grow up poor, that is what you do," she said on the stand during defense questioning.
She agreed that for the first time in her life, she is in control.
She also was questioned by Judge Wendy Berger who asked her why she should be treated differently than her codefendants.
Croslin was arrested earlier this year, along with her ex-husband and Haleigh's father Ronald Cummings. Croslin's brother Hank was also arrested for drug trafficking. Both got 15 years in prison.
"I wouldn't be here if (the FBI) didn't come at me... I'm not a drug dealer," Croslin responded.
Berger disagreed. In sentencing, she was unmoved by earlier harrowing descriptions of Croslin's upbringing. "You may not have a lot of book smarts, but you have a lot of street smarts," she said. "You are here because you sold drugs."
"You are a young lady who has committed bad choices," she said.
"You say you're not a drug deal and I countered with you that you are. You deal with a whole heck of a lot of drugs," said Berger.
Croslin's defense had also asked to be sentenced as a youthful offender. "I'm so young, I have a lot of life ahead of me...."
"But you like the money?" said Berger. "Yes," Croslin responded.
Berger said she considered the youthful offender option. "(I) realized there is a hefty minimum mandatory, but the problem with youthful offender (sentencing) is the six years."
The state argued with Croslin about her involvement in the drug deals; she has persisted that she was not the leader and that the drug contacts were the groups', not hers alone.
She persisted that she was not into pills. "I'm into marijuana; I don't sell it, I smoke it."
Misty Croslin's mother, Lisa Croslin, testified today on her daughter's behalf that she was a "terrible mother." She used drugs, she said, when she was raising her daughter, and that Croslin failed seventh grade, then never returned to school.
Her mother and other family members were sitting behind her in the St. Johns County courtroom, and relatives of Haleigh Cummings are also in the courtroom.
As Croslin became hysterical, her mother also said that she blackmailed her daughter for Xanax during the Haleigh investigation. She testified that she was unsure of her daughter's age, what a PTA is, and whether Croslin can add.
Misty Croslintold the court she was raised mainly at a campground, was raped several times between the ages of 7 to 14, and had to care for her ailing grandmother, who was an amputee.
Cummings also abused her, she said, and once beat her up when she found out she was pregnant. Croslin said she eventually found out that she was not.
The first witness was Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigator Travis Smith, who said Croslin told undercover agents that she had four sources for drugs. At one point, she promised to buy 50 percoset, Smith said, adding that she did all the calling and transactions with the FBI.
Smith said Croslin had a large network, 200 pills potentially. "That is a large amount of hydrocodone," he said.
"Why do you feel she is not innocent and she is a drug dealer?" her attorney asked.
"She had multiple sources," Smith replied. "She had the knowledge...the prices were dead on with the market rate."
Croslin was babysitting Haleigh in February 2009, and said the little girl vanished from the Satsuma trailer. There has been no sign of Haleigh since, and various stories about what happened to the girl have been offered by the Croslins over the past few months.
The Croslins and Cummings were arrested as part of an undercover drug operation. Cummings was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison for his role in the drug trafficking.
A few months ago, Hank Croslin was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Misty Croslin entered a no contest plea.
She is also scheduled for another sentencing on charges of trafficking hydrocodone and/or oxycodone in Putnam County Court. That sentencing, originally set for Oct. 19, has been rescheduled to Jan 10.
The State Attorney's Office said there are different sentencing dates and locations because the offenses were committed in two separate counties.
Haleigh's family continues to hold out hope that new information about the girl's disappearance will turn up because of the drug cases.
MORE: Amber Alert and full coverage on the Search for Haleigh Cummings
First Coast News