Carolyn Hall is angry about what people are saying about her niece, Shannon Bentley. Hall said Bentley never used her home on August Lane to run a meth lab and doesn't believe drugs were ever sold there.
"Shannon is a wonderful person, she really is, and people don't have any idea," said Hall. "You make mistakes every day of your life. She did get caught up in using some meth after her dad died suddenly. She just turned the other way and it just happened."
Lufkin police seized the home during a drug raid more than a year ago. The $100,000 house in the Four Seasons subdivision is now in the middle of a $60,000 renovation project.
We took our news camera inside the home and despite our footage, Hall said Bentley kept a clean house and drugs were never around her two children. She called her niece's choice to try meth a mistake for which she's still paying a very high price.
"She paid cash for it from an inheritance for her father that died suddenly. She paid cash for it and they took it away from her. She's lost all of this. She had six months left to go at S.F.A. to be a school teacher. She cannot do that now because she got charged with a felony."
Bentley was charged with delivery of a controlled substance. Her former live-in boyfriend, Robert Dillahunty, pleaded guilty to drug charges earlier this year and was sentenced to two years in prison and three years supervised release.
"It was tried one time in the garage, no other time was it ever cooked in that house," said Hall. "So, I think they blowed that issue out of proportion. They got a $110,000 house from her - she's lost a whole lot - isn't that enough? Isn't it time to stop now?"
Shannon Bentley no longer lives in Lufkin, but her aunt said she's doing well. She's been sober for 18 months and just finished six months of house arrest.
Bentley is just months away from earning a degree to become a licensed counselor. With that degree and the hard life lessons she's learned, Bentley plans to help East Texans overcome alcohol and drug addiction.