Pregnant Fugitive Pleads Not Guilty in Tennessee Meth Conspiracy

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- A woman arrested as a pregnant fugitive as she returned to the United States from Mexico has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge that she conspired with two men to distribute methamphetamine in Tennessee.

Twenty-six-year-old Patricia Laney of Dalton, Georgia, entered the plea today at a Chattanooga hearing where U.S. Magistrate Bill Carter set a December 17th trial.

A grand jury in March indicted Laney on charges of conspiring to distribute at least 500 grams of meth and possessing with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of the addictive stimulant.

An official has said Laney used a bogus name that had been "red-flagged" in the computer system used by border crossing agents when she attempted to re-enter the U.S. in late June.

Laney was pregnant when arrested in Brownsville, Texas, and was kept there until after the birth of her child in mid-August.

A grand jury indicted Laney with Brandon Kyle Freeman and Dennis Gordon Arp.

Freeman and Arp made plea deals in August and both have November sentencing hearings.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)