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Posted: 6:26 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, 2013

79-year-old Atlanta woman jailed, charged with selling marijuana



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Norma Cheren photo
Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Norma Cheren, 79.

By Marcus K. Garner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Norma Cheren was scheduled to have an operation on her hip this week.

Instead, the 79-year-old southeast Atlanta woman sits in the Fulton County jail after police say they discovered more than 9 pounds of marijuana in her home last week.

“I can’t believe that she’s over 60,” neighbor Jennifer Brown told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday. “Let alone that she (might be) doing that kind of stuff. This is too much.”

The arrest warrant states that Cheren was spotted Thursday evening selling more than 8 ounces of pot — a felony — in Buckhead.

Atlanta Police Narcotics officers said they learned about the possible sale and followed an alleged customer. After finding less than an ounce of weed in the woman’s car, they persuaded her to give up her seller, police said.

Cheren’s home, in the 1100 block of Vicker Street in southeast Atlanta, was raided and investigators found a large container filled with marijuana, plus a pair of metal lunch boxes containing more than $130,000 in cash, police said.

Frederick Canty, who has lived about a block away from Cheren for the past five years, said it’s no shock that someone in the neighborhood is accused of selling some form of illicit drugs.

“It happens,” Canty said. “It does surprise me, however, that the person (accused of) doing the selling is nearly 80.”

Brown, who has lived in the neighborhood on Vicker Street off and on for nearly 40 years, said she has seen Cheren walking up and down the street almost every day for much of 25 years.

“She would come out of her house, wave at us, move her Herby Curby from the side of the house and back to the house,” Brown said, adding that she “never would’ve thought” Cheren would face drug allegations.

Neighbors acknowledged that the neighborhood, just off the south end of Moreland Avenue and a stone’s throw from Grant Park, the Starlight Drive-In and the federal penitentiary, had seen a rise in crime in recent years. But few suspected a solitary septuagenarian.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Brown said.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, this would not be Cheren’s first drug infraction.

She was sentenced to seven years of probation in 1991 for violating the state’s drug possession laws in Baldwin County, DOC officials said.

During Cheren’s first court appearance Friday at the jail, a court-appointed attorney told a Fulton County magistrate that Cheren was due to have hip surgery this week.

A woman stopping in front of Cheren’s home on Monday who identified herself only as “a good friend” confirmed reports of the impending hospital stay and complained that despite bond set at $25,000, Cheren can’t get released.

“They won’t let her out,” the woman said. “She’s old and can barely move.”

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