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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Tennessee

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sevierville Residents Charged With Oxycodone Distribution Conspiracy And Firearms Offenses

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A federal grand jury in Knoxville returned a six-count indictment on Apr.15, 2014, against Esther Franklin, 53, Nicole Hughes, 26, and Christopher Matthew Hughes, 31, all of Sevierville, Tenn., charging them with a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and firearms offenses.

Franklin and Nicole Hughes appeared in court on Apr. 22, 2014, before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, Jr., and pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment. Nichole Hughes was placed on pretrial release and Franklin was held pending trial, which has been set for July 1, 2014, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. Christopher Hughes will be scheduled for an initial appearance in the near future.

The indictment alleges that from May 2011 to July 2013, Franklin, Nicole Hughes and Christopher Matthew Hughes were involved in a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. Franklin was also charged with possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon. Christopher Matthew Hughes was also charged with distribution of oxycodone and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

If convicted, all three face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000, and a term of supervised release of at least three years and up to life. In addition, if Franklin is convicted of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, she will face a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of at least five years and up to life, to be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment which may be imposed.

This indictment is the result of an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Sevier County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia F. Davidson will represent the United States.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until his or her guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 18, 2015