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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


MATT J. WHITWORTH


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


JULY 9, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


FOUR DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY TO DRUG TRAFFICKING,

ILLEGAL FIREARMS


            JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that three Columbia, Mo., men and a Kansas City, Mo., man have pleaded guilty in federal court to their involvement in illegal drug trafficking and firearms in association with the Cut Throats gang.


            Cheviss Caron Denny, 21, and Ryan Montez Kee, 22, both of Columbia, and Robert Lee Jones, 19, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, July 7, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Knox to the charges contained in an April 3, 2009, superseding indictment. Dajuan Anthony Harris, 26, of Columbia, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, July 8, 2009.


            Denny pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, powder cocaine and marijuana from January 2007 to January 2009. During that time period, Denny admitted, conspirators moved at least a kilogram of powder cocaine and at least half a kilogram of crack cocaine.


            Denny and Jones admitted that they were involved in illegal drug trafficking with co-defendants Robert Darnell Simmons, 36, William Ricky Boyd, 21, and Tarron Montez Cason, 25, all of Columbia, and Michael Lee Stapleton, 23, of Fayette, Mo., who have each pleaded guilty. Simmons, Boyd, Cason and Stapleton admitted they were part of the Cut Throats gang, whose members were involved in distributing narcotics, possessing firearms, passing firearms between themselves and using firearms to promote their drug trafficking operation and to protect themselves.


            Denny admitted that he was present on June 2, 2007, when a Cut Throats member was shot by a member of a rival gang, in part due to a territorial dispute over the unlawful distribution of crack and powder cocaine. Simmons, Boyd and Stapleton have pleaded guilty to their involvement in a drive-by shooting on May 31, 2008, in an effort to get revenge for that shooting.


            Denny and Jones each pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to illegally possess and to aid and abet others to illegally possess firearms and to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.


            Jones and Harris each pleaded guilty to one count of using a telephone to facilitate the commission of a drug-trafficking conspiracy and to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Jones admitted that he was in possession of a loaded Norinco SKS assault rifle, which he used to aid in the drug-trafficking operation. Jones, who has a prior felony conviction for unlawful use of a weapon, was also in possession of ammunition and a bullet-proof vest. Harris, who has prior felony convictions for drug trafficking and possession of a controlled substance, admitted that he was in possession of a Glock handgun and an AK 47/22, .22-caliber rifle on Aug. 29, 2008.


            Kee pleaded guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. Jones and Kee were pulled over for traffic violations on I-70 in Boone County, Mo., on July 8, 2008. Law enforcement officers discovered cocaine and marijuana in their vehicle, which they admitted they were transporting for the purpose of re-distribution.


            Under federal statutes, Denny is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. Jones is subject to a sentence of up to 39 years in federal prison without parole. Kee is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. Harris is subject to a sentenced of up to 14 years in federal prison without parole. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony P. Gonzalez and Lawrence E. Miller and Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steven Berry, who has been appointed a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to assist in this prosecution. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Boone County, Mo., Prosecutor’s Office, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab and the Mo. Department of Corrections.

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html