Four Gate City residents and five residents of Northeast Tennessee pled guilty to federal drug distribution charges in U.S. District Court on Monday.
United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy announced Tuesday that nine residents of Virginia and Tennessee entered guilty pleas in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to charges involving drug distribution.
The charges resulted from a cooperative investigation by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County, Tenn. Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Marshals Service.
On Monday in U.S. District Court, Mickey Fields, 26, Gate City, Jessica Light, 25, Gate City, Jacob Spivey, 25, Gate City, Donald Lee Whitefeather, 59, Gate City, Tabatha Drake, 22, Blountville Tenn., Joshua Holmes, 21, Kingsport, Tenn., Thomas Laney, 25, Kingsport, Tenn., Connie Puckett, 43, Kingsport, Tenn. and Lovella Sweeney, 30, Kingsport, Tenn. entered guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone.
“The success of this case demonstrates our commitment to work together across state lines to put criminal drug organizations out of business,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said. “Prescription drug abuse is a serious health problem in Southwest Virginia and this office will continue to prosecute those who profit from the addiction of others. We will also continue to support education and treatment programs and pursue a holistic response to this persistent problem.”
Each defendant faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1 million. Spivey also entered a plea of guilty to one count of distributing Suboxone within 1,000 feet of a school which carries a potential punishment of up to 20 years imprisonment, a $1 million fine and a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year.
According to evidence presented at the guilty plea hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Lee, the individuals who pleaded guilty were all involved in the distribution of controlled substances in Scott County and Sullivan County, Tenn. from approximately 2007 to 2011.
The Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that Drake, Spivey, Whitefeather, Fields and Light distributed large quantities of oxycodone and suboxone.
It was also determined that large quantities of oxycodone were being supplied by Puckett, Sweeney and Laney to other members of the conspiracy for further distribution in Scott County and Sullivan County, Tenn.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County, Tenn. Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County, Tenn. District Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee of the United States Attorney’s Office in Abingdon is prosecuting the case.