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Friday, July 16, 2010

Department of Justice

Acting United States Attorney Gregg L. Sullivan Eastern District of Tennessee


KNOXVILLE BUSINESSMAN CONVICTED IN FLORIDA TO TENNESSEE PILL PIPELINE CASE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn -Following a three-day trial in United States District Court, a jury convicted James LaPointe of Knoxville, Tenn., yesterday of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and marijuana, and attempting to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute.

Sentencing is set for October 25, 2010, at 1:00 P.M., in United States District Court in Knoxville, before the Honorable Leon Jordan, United States District Judge. LaPointe faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a mandatory minimum of three years of supervised release.

The evidence presented at trial showed that LaPointe was part of a pill and marijuana distribution ring that began operating in September 2007, when co-defendant Lance Barabas began shipping quantities of oxycodone from Florida to the Eastern District of Tennessee. The drug packages were received by Barabas’s associates, including co-defendant Dustin Wallace, who would then divide the oxycodone pills into smaller quantities for distribution by co-conspirators to customers in exchange for cash. After meeting Dustin Wallace in October 2008, the defendant became one of his distributors. Eventually, the defendant agreed to accept one of the packages of oxycodone at his business, Integrated Security, located at 1645 Downtown West Boulevard in Knoxville, Tennessee. The package was scheduled to arrive on October 27, 2009, the date of the defendant’s arrest, but the package was seized by law enforcement pursuant to a federal search warrant. The package contained 175 oxycodone pills. The evidence presented at trial included 22 phone conversations intercepted pursuant to a federal wiretap, as well as the testimony of three codefendants, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. The evidence showed that during the two-year period that the group operated, it was responsible for distributing nearly 150,000 oxycodone pills. Both Barabas and Wallace previously pleaded guilty to their part in the conspiracy. A total of 14 defendants have been convicted in the probe.

Law enforcement agencies participating in the joint investigation which led to indictment and subsequent conviction of James LaPointe included the DEA, Knoxville Police Department, and Knox County Sheriff’s Office. The case was a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). Both programs are designed to reduce the illegal distribution of drugs in our country. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David P. Lewen, Jr. and Alexandra Hui represented the United States at trial.

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