News and Press Releases

30 defendants indicted for $1 million meth conspiracy
in northwest mO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that 30 defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute more than $1 million worth of methamphetamine in northwest Missouri.

Thirty defendants, primarily from St. Joseph, Mo., and elsewhere in northwest Missouri, were charged in a five-count superseding indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of 12 of the defendants.

Thirteen of the defendants are residents of St. Joseph, Mo.: Russell William Anderson, 50, Tamara Beth Angel, 33, Brandy Leighann Bennett, 33, Bradley Shawn Blacketer, 34, Chad Ryan Brant, 29, Brett Alan Devooght, 46, Audrey J. Lingle, 32, James Brian Sipes, 32, Deacon Tony Juanita Suritte, 36, Jonathan Michael Cornell, 31, Katie Nicole Sansone-Utterback, 24, Samantha Ann Worley, 20, and Caleb Loren Velvick, 29. This superseding indictment replaces an earlier indictment in which Blacketer was the sole defendant.

Twelve of the defendants are also residents of northwest Missouri: Brian Dean Keever, 41, Holly Lynn Nicholson, 41, and Rusty Ray Turner, 39, all of Skidmore, Mo.; Sabina Lea Corbin, 43, Diane Marie Cureton, 55, Jesse Jo Lee Stinnett, 31, and his brother, Joshua Dean Stinnett, 35, all of Maitland, Mo.; Michael Delmar McCalister, 45, Kenneth Joseph Wheeler, 40, and Robert S. Miller, 46, all of Craig, Mo.; Michelle Sue Hendrix, 42, of Country Club, Mo.; and Matthew Henry Grover, 38, of Mound City, Mo.

Also charged in the indictment are Steven Leroy Morris, 31, and Dustin Nathaniel Wertz, 35, both of Kansas City, Mo.; Shannon Renee Keyes, 19, of Gladstone, Mo.; Eleisha Leann Anderson, 36, of Kearney, Mo.; and Joshua Duane Dockweiler, 34, of Clarinda, Iowa.

The federal indictment alleges that all of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute at least 15 kilograms of methamphetamine from Jan. 1, 2009, to March 14, 2012.

The indictment also alleges that all of the defendants participated in a money-laundering conspiracy during that time by conducting financial transactions that involved the unlawful proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy. According to the indictment, the methamphetamine distributed during the conspiracy has a street price of at least $2,000 per ounce, for a total street value of $1,070,000.

During the conspiracy, law enforcement officers conducted at least 10 controlled methamphetamine purchases with at least eight different defendants. During this time, at least 11 arrests or searches of defendants or co-conspirators occurred where methamphetamine was recovered. On at least six occasions, defendants were found in possession of hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash, although they had no known legitimate income.

During the conspiracy, Hendrix and Wheeler allegedly used $3,700 of drug proceeds to purchase one pound of methamphetamine from Morris. Also during this time, the indictment says, an unindicted co-conspirator wrote numerous insufficient funds checks and used the proceeds to purchase methamphetamine from Hendrix and Wheeler. The unindicted co-conspirator then used and distributed the methamphetamine.

Hendrix allegedly took firearms, lawn and yard equipment, vehicles, trailers, construction equipment, electronic equipment, and ATV’s as payment for drugs “fronted” or in trade for drugs. In the summer of 2010, the indictment says, Hendrix took from Wheeler and Dockweiler a stolen gooseneck flatbed trailer with an ATV on it as either payment for a drug debt or in exchange for drugs. In early 2010 Hendrix allegedly showed a different unindicted co-conspirator a garage in St. Joseph that was full of televisions, computers and four chainsaws that Hendrix identified as items she had taken in trade for methamphetamine. During the conspiracy, the indictment says, Hendrix instructed various co-conspirators about certain items she was looking for and offered to trade methamphetamine for those items.

Law enforcement officers conducted traffic stops on Hendrix on Sept. 3, 2009, and on Feb. 3, 2012. According to the indictment, Hendrix was in possession of $4,000 and $5,000, respectively, and both times had no known legal income. Hendrix was allegedly in possession of drug ledgers that indicated the amount of drugs sold, the amount of money owed, and the identities of and contacts for various co-conspirators.

According to the indictment, Velvick (sometimes accompanied by Sansone and Worley) used drug proceeds to purchase multiple ounces of methamphetamine from Morris every week of October and November 2010 as well as during December 2010.

In addition to the conspiracies, Blacketer is also charged with possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, with possessing a short-barrel shotgun in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, with being an unlawful user of methamphetamine while in possession of a firearm, with possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number and with possessing an unregistered firearm. The firearms charges are related to Blacketer’s alleged possession of a Savage Arms 12-gauge, double-barreled weapon made from a shotgun on Sept. 2, 2011.

Joshua and Jesse Stinnett are also charged together in one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government $1,070,000, which was allegedly received in exchange for the unlawful distribution of methamphetamine. According to the indictment, that money judgment is based on the distribution of 15 kilograms or more of methamphetamine with an estimated street price of $2,000 per ounce.

The forfeiture allegation would also require the forfeiture of a total of $21,426 , all of which was seized by law enforcement officers from various defendants and allegedly was proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, the Sheriff’s Departments of Buchanan, Holt and Nodaway Counties, the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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