Mobile Couple Sentenced to 25 Years Each for Drug Conspiracy
Tasha Michelle Blackburn and Barry Jay Sullivan, of Mobile, were each sentenced to 25 years in federal prison on charges that they distributed methamphetamine during 2007 and 2008. They were convicted by a federal jury in a joint trial in March of 2009.
Trial evidence showed that Blackburn, 34, and Sullivan, 37, distributed the most expensive and highly addictive form of methamphetamine, referred to as “ice,” over several months. Blackburn and Sullivan distributed the drugs from a trailer off Ramsey Road and then from a rental house on Airport Boulevard during the conspiracy. Their drug dealings were finally disrupted when Blackburn was stopped by a Mobile police officer for making an illegal turn on Airport Boulevard in the wee hours of the morning on May 22, 2008. Blackburn consented to a search of the Airport Boulevard house they occupied at that time, where officers found methamphetamine, drug notes, scales, cash, drug paraphernalia, marijuana, and a shotgun with pistol grips. Sullivan drove into the driveway of the residence after Blackburn was arrested but before the police left, and the officers found additional amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, cash, scales and other drug paraphernalia in his vehicle.
Sullivan and Blackburn had been implicated in the larger methamphetamine distribution operation by other conspirators who had already been arrested by federal authorities. The arrest and search of their residence corroborated other information about their drug distribution activities. Key evidence implicating them in substantial amounts of methamphetamine distributed by the members of the conspiracy was recovered from a computer belonging to one of the conspirators. Trial testimony backed by the computer and telephone records showed that Blackburn and Sullivan were moving several ounces of methamphetamine ice every week so quickly that their supplier gave them a discount on the price. Trial testimony established that the drugs normally sold for $2,000 per ounce, but Blackburn and Sullivan got a discount of $200 per ounce due to the quantities they were selling over a short time frame.
At the sentencing today, Assistant United States Attorney Gloria Bedwell argued that the discovery of the drugs, the drug notes, the pistol-grip shotgun, in addition to the fact that the trial evidence showed the drug distribution was occurring at the residences where Blackburn’s children were living with the couple, justified a sentence at the high end of the advisory guideline range of 292 months to 365 months. She argued that the amount of methamphetamine ice distributed through this organization, approximately 52 pounds, appropriately drove up the guideline range well above 20 years. Judge William H. Steele commented that based upon his experience as a judge presiding over many drug prosecutions, he knew that methamphetamine was one of the most destructive drugs abused in the country today. He imposed sentences on both defendants of 300 months, or 25 years, to be followed by supervised release terms of five years. No fine was imposed, but the judge ordered each defendant to pay the mandatory special assessments of $100 for Blackburn and $400 for Sullivan.
The case was investigated by the Mobile Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
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