Nine Residents of Kingsport and Gate City Plead Guilty to Drug Distribution Conspiracy
ABINGDON, VIRGINIA -- United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy announced today that nine residents of Virginia and Tennessee entered pleas of guilty yesterday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to charges involving drug distribution. These charges resulted from a cooperative investigation by the Scott County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the United States Marshals Service.
Yesterday in District Court, Tabatha Drake, 22, Blountville Tenn., Mickey Fields, 26, Gate City, Va., Joshua Holmes, 21, Kingsport, Tenn., Thomas, Laney, 25, Kingsport, Tenn., Jessica Light, 25, Gate City, Va., Connie Puckett, 43, Kingsport, Tenn., Jacob Spivey, 25, Gate City, Va., Lovella Sweeney, 30, Kingsport, Tenn., and Donald Lee Whitefeather, 59, Gate City, Va., entered pleas of guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone.
“The success of this case demonstrates our commitment to work together across state lines to put criminal drug organizations out of business,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “Prescription drug abuse is a serious health problem in Southwest Virginia and this office will continue to prosecute those who profit from the addiction of others. We will also continue to support education and treatment programs and pursue a holistic response to this persistent problem.”
Each defendant faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000. Spivey also entered a plea of guilty to one count of distributing Suboxone within 1,000 feet of a school which carries a potential punishment of up to twenty years imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine and a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year.
According to evidence presented at the guilty plea hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Lee, the individuals who pleaded guilty were all involved in the distribution of controlled substances in Scott County, Virginia and Sullivan County, Tennessee from approximately 2007-2011. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that Drake, Spivey, Whitefeather, Fields, and Light distributed large quantities of oxycodone and suboxone. It was also determined that large quantities of oxycodone were being supplied by Connie Puckett, Lovella Sweeney, and Thomas Laney to other members of the conspiracy for further distribution in Scott County, Virginia and Sullivan County, Tennessee.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Scott County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County, Tennessee District Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the United States Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee of the United States Attorney’s Office in Abingdon is prosecuting the case.