July 8, 2011
Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee
DEFENDANTS SENTENCED IN MAJOR COCAINE TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION OPERATING IN THE TRI-CITIES AREA
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - On Thursday, July 7, 2011, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville, U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan sentenced Lee Carr, of Johnson City, Tenn., to 235 months in prison and Kelly Miller, of Utica, New York to 78 months in prison, for their respective roles in a drug trafficking organization. Following a four-week trial, a jury convicted Carr, Miller and co-defendants Sunnah Maddox, Adrian Dorsey, Ronnie Cooper, Jason Dejesus, and Keith Ruffin of Utica, New York, of numerous federal drug trafficking charges. Co-defendant Adrian Dorsey was previously sentenced on Jun. 27, 2011, to 120 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy and his judgment of conviction was entered on July 6, 2011.
U.S. District Court Judge Leon Jordan also entered an order of forfeiture on July 6, 2011, for a money judgment against Maddox, Carr and Cooper in the total amount of $7,000,000.00 in U.S. currency, which represents the proceeds from the sale of cocaine, cocaine base (“crack”) and marijuana obtained and money laundered during the course of the conspiracy by the various co-defendants.
Sentencing hearings for Maddox, Cooper, Ruffin and Dejesus are all set within the next several weeks in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, before the Honorable Leon Jordan. Maddox faces a mandatory life sentence without parole. Ruffin, Cooper, and Dejesus face sentences of up to life in prison.
According to evidence presented at trial, in February 2008, Johnson City Police Officers and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents arrested an individual who was known by local law enforcement to be part of a group of drug traffickers who had moved to Johnson City Tenn., from Utica, New York, for the sole purpose of distributing cocaine and crack cocaine. A recorded telephone call from this individual monitored by law enforcement was made to Maddox to order a half-kilogram of cocaine. This led to the DEA obtaining a court-authorized wire tap for Maddox’s phone. Maddox operated his drug organization from his residences in both Johnson City, Tenn., and Utica, New York. Using coded conversation known as “Supreme Mathematics,” Maddox and other members of the conspiracy recruited couriers to transport kilogram quantities of cocaine, as well as large amounts of U.S. currency from Johnson City to Atlanta, Florida, and New York. The cocaine was then cooked into crack cocaine for distribution in the Johnson City area. During the investigation, agents conducted undercover drug purchases from members of the conspiracy and made traffic stops on organization members which resulted in the seizure of tens of thousands of dollars. The investigation culminated in the execution of search warrants on May 7, 2009, during which approximately one and one-half kilos of cocaine and over $21,000.00, were seized. Maddox and many of his other co-defendants were arrested soon thereafter. From jail, Maddox communicated with a co-defendant whom he suspected of cooperating with law enforcement agents, and threatened to take action against this individual if he testified against him at trial. Maddox communicated this information to conspiracy members Cooper and Ruffin, and in a recorded conversation, he announced a "green light" on this individual. An FBI cryptanalyst forensic examiner, who analyzed the coded conversations used by Maddox and other members of the conspiracy, testified at trial that the “green light” issued by Maddox during the telephone call was an order to kill this individual.
Evidence showed that Maddox’s organization was responsible for the distribution of over 40 kilograms of crack cocaine and dozens of kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride in the tri-cities area of upper east Tennessee.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said , "The sentences in these cases send a message to all, locally and from other parts of the country, that these dangerous and ruthless criminals in the drug business will receive the serious punishment that they deserve in the Eastern District of Tennessee."
Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation which led to indictment and subsequent conviction of Maddox, Carr, Miller, Dorsey, Cooper, Dejesus, and Ruffin included the DEA, Johnson City Police Department, Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Department, First Judicial District Drug Task Force, Tennessee Highway Patrol and various law enforcement officers in New York State including the New York State Police, Utica, New York Police Department and New York DEA and FBI offices. Brian Vicchio, assigned to the DEA task force by the Johnson City Police Department was the lead investigator and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wayne Taylor and Robert Reeves represented the United States at trial.
This case was part of the Department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) programs. OCDETF is the primary weapon of the United States against the highest level drug trafficking organizations operating within the United States, importing drugs into the United States, or laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking. The HIDTA program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with coordination, equipment, technology, and additional resources to combat drug trafficking and its harmful consequences in critical regions of the United States.