Lawyer course

Former KS lawyer sentenced for heroin distribution conspiracy


A former Shawnee, Kansas attorney was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison on Tuesday for sending heroin to a Missouri jail in an envelope disguised as legal documents.

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A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a former Shawnee lawyer to spend just over a year behind bars after she admitted sending heroin to a state prison intended for her romantic partner, a convicted murderer.

Juliane L. Colby, 44, was sentenced to 13 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays following a hearing in the Kansas City office of the Western District of Missouri. Colby pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, a felony, in February.

Federal prosecutors say Colby spoke with his romantic partner, identified as Conspirator 1, over the phone and during in-person visits to Western Missouri Correctional Center. During this period, prosecutors said they planned to ship heroin inside.

The calls between the two men were recorded and later used as evidence by the government in the Colby crime case. Prosecutors say they used various code words to stage the shipment in an apparent attempt to avoid detection.

In August 2019, Colby sent an envelope marked “Legal Mail” to Cameron’s public facility. It contained eight sachets of heroin that collectively weighed about 3.2 grams, prosecutors said, along with legal documents and photographs of Colby.

The envelope also contained a fictitious return address for a law firm and was addressed to an inmate housed in the same prison unit as her partner, according to prosecutors.

Although federal authorities do not name conspirator 1 in court, the person is referenced as the same inmate Colby formed a relationship with as she was employed by the Missouri Public Defender’s Office in Kansas City. The Star previously reported that Colby was investigated after providing a cellphone and other contraband to Ce-Antonyo Kennedy, who was then charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of ‘a middle school student.

During this investigation, Colby, then 39, was charged with delivering or concealing illegal documents to Kennedy, who was 19 at the time. County prosecutors said the couple exchanged sex messages on a personal cell phone that Kennedy kept against prison rules.

In that case, Colby was offered an embezzlement deal through Jackson County Circuit Court that resulted in the charges against her being dismissed in May 2019. Less than three months later, she has sent the package containing heroin to the state prison.

Colby, who has a degree in social work in addition to her law degree, was employed by the public defender’s office at the time in her capacity as a counsellor. Kennedy was one of his clients. She was fired after the criminal allegations first came to light.

Kennedy was one of three convicted in the murder of Alexis Kane, 14, an eighth-grade student at Smith-Hale Middle School. The girl was found beaten to death and shot on January 11, 2015, at Bay Water Park in the 7100 block of Longview Road in southern Kansas City.

Kennedy was found guilty by a Jackson County jury of second degree murder and felony armed felony in the girl’s death. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In a motion for a lighter sentence in Colby’s federal case, Marc Ermine, a federal public defender, wrote that Colby is the single mother of a 12-year-old daughter. He said her decision to send a small amount of heroin to a state prison represented a “misguided attempt” to help a loved one with whom she had a years-long relationship.

Prior to his sentencing on Tuesday, Colby had spent six months in Bates County after pleading guilty in February. Colby’s defense attorneys requested a sentence of time already served.

Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, asked the judge to sentence Colby to 18 months in prison. In support of this argument, prosecutors said she used her “status and experience as a lawyer to circumvent” the process by which mail is reviewed in prison and displayed a tendency to “aggravate her criminal behavior “after avoiding serious criminal penalties before.

This story was originally published August 9, 2022 10:07 p.m.

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Bill Lukitsch covers breaking news for The Star. Prior to joining The Star, he covered politics and local government for the Quad-City Times.