News and Press Releases

VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR COCAINE DEALING -
Defendant Faces Additional Charges in Oregon for Continued Dealing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2008

BENJAMIN PHATHANASACK, a/k/a “Phat Sack,” 23, of Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to eighteen months in prison and three years of supervised release for Distribution of Cocaine. PHATHANASACK was arrested following a drug deal with an undercover officer on April 12, 2007 (which followed three previous sales to a confidential informant working with the Metro Gang Task Force in Vancouver). At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton told the defendant that while he was serving his time it was up to him to “keep the faith” and make sure that he became a productive citizen when he got out. In announcing the sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines range, Judge Leighton told PHATHASACK, “I don’t want to crush your spirit” by adjudging a harsher sentence. But Leighton also warned the defendant that federal supervision was very tight and very strict, and that “you will be caught” and “it will not go well for you” if PHATHANASACK were brought back before the Court for future violations of supervised release. Referring again to the defendant’s spirit, Judge Leighton said he would “crush it like a grape” if the defendant ended up back in court.

According to records filed in the case, an undercover officer set up a drug deal with PHATHANASACK, and drove to the Springbrook Apartments on NE 66th Avenue in Vancouver, Washington, to purchase the drugs. PHATHANASACK got into the undercover officer’s car and handed him a bag containing cocaine in exchange for $120. The week following this delivery, PHATHANASACK made additional drug sales in Portland, Oregon, and charges related to those sales are still pending. PHATHANASACK has two prior assault convictions, and one conviction for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

PHATHANASACK was arrested October 10, 2007, and pleaded guilty February 29, 2008.

As part of his supervised release, PHATHANASACK must not associate with any known gang members.

The case was investigated by the Vancouver Metro Gang Task Force, which is composed of various federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working jointly to combat gang-related crime in both the Vancouver and Portland metro areas. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory A. Gruber.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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