Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

APRIL 8, 2010





            JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that four Columbia, Mo., men were sentenced in federal court today for their involvement in illegal drug trafficking and firearms in association with the Cut Throats gang.

            Koda Alshawn Coats, 23, his brother, Eric Sherron Coats, 22, Demarco Laron Burnett, 25, and Cheviss Caron Denny, 22, all of Columbia, were sentenced in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey this morning. Koda Coats was sentenced to 18 years and four months in federal prison without parole. Eric Coats was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Burnett and Denny were each sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole.

            Eric Coats and Denny each pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and powder cocaine from January 2007 to January 2009. During that time period, they admitted, conspirators distributed at least a kilogram of powder cocaine and at least half a kilogram of crack cocaine. They admitted they were involved in drug trafficking with members of the Cut Throats gang, which was involved in distributing narcotics, possessing firearms, passing firearms between themselves and using firearms to promote their drug trafficking operation and to protect themselves.

            Eric Coats and Denny also pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to illegally possess and to aid and abet others to illegally possess firearms and to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Eric Coats also pleaded guilty to possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking conspiracy.

            Denny admitted that he was present at a Break Time gas station on Smiley Lane in Columbia on June 2, 2007, when a Cut Throats member was shot by a member of rival gang Louie Bound, in part due to a territorial dispute over the unlawful distribution of crack and powder cocaine. That evening, Eric Coats searched with other members of his organization for the shooter in order to take revenge for the shooting. They met several times afterwards to plan violent retribution against the person they believed to be the shooter and his associates, culminating in a shooting that occurred at a Petro Mart gas station at 3300 Falling Leaf in Columbia on May 31, 2008.

            Koda Coats pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine. He admitted that, while he was a passenger in a vehicle that was being pursued by a Boone County deputy on May 11, 2007, he was carrying a baggie containing 11.31 grams of crack cocaine that he intended to distribute. He also admitted that he threw the baggie containing crack cocaine out the vehicle window; it was later retrieved by law enforcement officers. Koda Coats also admitted that he was involved in drug trafficking with members of the Cut Throats gang.

            Burnett pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing crack cocaine.

            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony P. Gonzalez and Lawrence E. Miller and Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steven Berry, who has been appointed a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to assist in this prosecution. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Boone County, Mo., Prosecutor’s Office, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Mo. Department of Corrections and the Drug Enforcement Administration.


This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at