Ronald Cummings gets 15-year prison sentence in drug case
PALATKA â€” Ronald Cummings, father of missing Putnam County girl Haleigh Cummings, was sentenced Friday morning to 15 years in prison on three counts of trafficking prescription narcotics.
Cummings, 26, had entered guilty pleas on Aug. 20 to three separate charges. Two carried mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years behind bars. The other carried a minimum sentence of three years.
Cummings mouthed “I love you” to his mother, Teresa Neves, and other family members following the sentencing.
Neither the family members nor Crystal Sheffield, Haleigh’s mother, would comment afterward.
Terry Shoemaker, Cummings’ attorney, said he believes 15 years is too much time but added it is the requirement under mandatory minimum sentencing.
“It was what it was. Personally, I think it was too much to what he pled to, but that’s the statute, and there is nothing I can do about that,” Shoemaker said.
Circuit Judge Terry LaRue gave Cummings the mandatory minimum prison term on all of the charges, with the sentences all to be served at the same time, for a total of 15 years.
Prosecutors dropped two other drug-related charges as part of a plea agreement.
Neves spoke briefly on her son’s behalf during the sentencing, alluding to the missing Haleigh.
“Ronald has always been a good father,” she said. “He has two children â€” we may not know where one of them is â€” but he has two children who need him.”
Haleigh was reported missing from home in February 2009, and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office believes the girl, who was then 5 years old, is dead.
The charges stemmed from an undercover drug investigation in January in which Misty Croslin, 18, was also arrested. Croslin was Cummings’ girlfriend when Haleigh disappeared. The two later married and divorced.
Croslin has told authorities that her cousin, Joe Overstreet, came to the house to look for a gun. It wasn’t there, she said, so he attacked Haleigh and took her from the home while Croslin hid under blankets with Ronald Cummings Jr., then age 3. Overstreet had denied the accusation.
Croslin has pleaded no contest to eight counts of drug trafficking and is set to be sentenced on one count in St. Johns County on Oct. 8 and on seven counts in Putnam County on Oct. 19.
Also arrested in the undercover drug operation was Croslin’s brother Hank “Tommy” Croslin Jr. He had told authorities he was with Overstreet when Overstreet disposed of the body in the St. Johns River.
Tommy Croslin was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trafficking.