PALATKA, Fla. -- The father of the little girl who vanished in 2009, sparking an Amber alert that thrust the town of Satsuma into the national spotlight has learned his sentence on drug charges.
Ronald Cummings agreed to plead guilty to three of the five drug cases against him in August, in exchange for two of the cases being dropped.
This morning, he was sentenced to three years and a $50,000 fine, 15 years and a $100,000 fine, and 15 years and another $100,000 fine in the three cases, to be served concurrently.
He faced a maximum of 70 years if sentenced to the max on all three cases to be served consecutively.
The concurrent sentences mean he faces 15 years total.
His mother took the stand this morning to plea for leniency in the sentence.
"He is a good father, he has two children," said Teresa Neves. "We might not know where one is, but he has two children."
Crystal Sheffield, Haleigh's mother, and other family members were in the courthouse parking lot after the sentence, crying. They said they were deeply disappointed at the sentence.
"I don't want my son to grow up without his father," Sheffield said as she wept.
She hoped the drug cases would reveal some clues to her daughter's disappearance. Sheffield believes Cummings ex-wife, Misty Croslin, and her brother, Hank, hold more information. The Croslins were arrested on drug charges too.
"(Misty and Hank Croslin are) telling us that (Haleigh is) dead," said Sheffield. "They have nothing to back it up. My baby is out there and she is coming home," said Sheffield.
Other family members hugged nearby, and said the 15-year sentence was a bitter disappointment.
"We had hoped and prayed things would be different but nothing we could do about it right this minute. We just have to pray a little harder," said Annette Sykes, Haleigh's great grandmother.
Terry Shoemaker, Cummings attorney, said they were expecting this sentence because it is the minimum mandatory, and that his client has done what he could to help the other drug cases.
Cummings, his ex-wife Misty Croslin and three other people were arrested in January on drug trafficking charges.
Croslin entered a no-contest plea in August and awaits sentencing in October, where she could be sentenced anywhere from about six years to 240 years.
Croslin was the last person to see Cummings' daughter in Feb. 2009, when she was babysitting Haleigh Cummings in The Cummings' Satsuma home.
Haleigh disappeared and has been the subject of a nationwide Amber alert since, though the sheriff has said he believes her to be dead.
Misty's attorney, Robert Fields, said in August that Misty had finally opened up about what happened that night, saying her brother and cousin took Haleigh.
First Coast News