Posted May 20, 2011 12:57 pm CDT
Jennifer Marie Patterson graduated last week from the University of Richmond law school, and on Thursday she was in court—as a defendant.
Patterson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, report the Richmond Times-Dispatch, WTVR.com and WRIC.com. She could face up to life in prison, but may be eligible for a lower sentence under a safety valve program for nonviolent drug offenders, the Times-Dispatch says.
Patterson’s lawyer, Claire Cardwell, said her client sold the drug to support her methamphetamine addiction, according to WTVR.com. Cardwell said Patterson didn’t distribute the drug in law school and had just one relapse while a law student. Patterson is now enrolled in the Lawyers Helping Lawyers drug addiction program and plans to take the Virginia bar exam.
U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck had encouraging words for Patterson on Thursday, the Times-Dispatch says. “Good luck on the bar,” the judge said.