News and Press Releases


THURSDAY - June 12, 2008

WILMINGTON - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court on June 10, 2008, Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox sentenced SYLVESTER JONES, JR., 28, of Washington, DC, to three hundred (300) months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release.

The investigation, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation (OCDETF) entitled Silent Thunder, centered around the possession with intent to distribute and distribution of substantial amounts of cocaine. During the investigation, two confidential sources of information purchased cocaine base from co-defendant Rodney Pettaway. In June 2006, Pettaway discovered the identity of one of the confidential sources, hereafter referred to as TP.On July 2, 2006, Pettaway offered JONES, then visiting Tarboro, North Carolina, $10,000.00 to kill TP. JONES and Pettaway acquired firearms and traveled to TP’s residence in Tarboro. Once at TP’s residence, JONES and Pettaway went to the backdoor. Pettaway hid around the corner and JONES knocked on the backdoor in an effort to lure TP outside. TP answered the door. As TP spoke to JONES, he looked to his left and saw Pettaway attempting to hide around the corner of the residence. TP then saw JONES reach behind JONES’s back, as if for a weapon. Fearing for his life, TP struck JONES as JONES removed a nine-millimeter pistol. TP fought JONES off and reentered the residence. TP called to his girlfriend, hereafter referred to as JDE. JDE attempted to shut the backdoor as JONES fired through the backdoor. A round struck JDE in the left wrist and chest, causing bleeding and a collapsed lung. The round remains lodged in JDE’s chest.

On January 10, 2008, two days into the jury trial, JONES pleaded guilty to using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A). Prior to the sentencing hearing the United States filed a motion for upward departure based, in part, on the serious physical injury and extreme psychological injury JDE suffered as a result of JONES’s actions.

Co-defendant Rodney Pettaway will be sentenced during the July 2008, term of court.

Mr. Holding noted the importance of this case, “This investigation, and the violence associated with it, is a reminder of the dangers inherent in drug use and drug trafficking. Whenever one becomes involved in a drug crime – whether it is use of an illegal drug or sale of an illegal drug – you jeopardize your own safety and the safety of your friends and family.”

Investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, State Bureau of Investigation, and Tarboro Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michael G. James is the assigned prosecutor.


News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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