Wanda Winfield lost her job, most of her expected pension, her health insurance and her reputation when she was arrested in April on charges of selling prescription narcotics at her Cheektowaga home.
And the way she got there was all too familiar, her attorney said in State Supreme Court Tuesday morning: injuries from two car accidents, physician-prescribed painkillers, and then a drug dependency that led to her illegal behavior.
Winfield, 46, of Charnwood Avenue received a sentence of five years probation from Justice Christopher J. Burns, along with on-the-record admonitions to “jump through some reasonable hoops” and abide by the conditions set out by the court.
Attorney Thomas Eoannou said the court’s sentence was only a fraction of the punishment Winfield has experienced for selling several dozen prescription pills to a lifelong friend – a friend who became a confidential police informant to offset some of her own legal problems and eventually offered Winfield $1,000 for the drugs.
“Wanda has been a responsible human being all her life,” Eoannou said.
He told how she earned her master’s degree in social work from the University at Buffalo while working and raising her family; how she was respected and promoted at her job with Erie County family services, where she oversaw a child protection program; and how UB has taken her back since her arrest as a volunteer mentor in a student program.
“She’s ruined her career and her reputation, and is embarrassed for her children and her husband,” Eoannou said. “Not only is she humiliated in the community, she is financially devastated.”
When Winfield lost her $60,000-a-year-position, Eoannou said, she also saw her future pension drop from about $2,500 a month to $400. Nevertheless, Burns ordered her to find a new full-time job, saying there “was no reason on earth” why she wouldn’t be able to.