James Fitzgerald “Boogie” Simonton Convicted of Crack Cocaine and Firearms Offenses
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - On March 2, 2018, following a three-day trial before the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge, a jury convicted James Fitzgerald Simonton, a/k/a Boogie, 50, of Kingsport, Tennessee, of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine, possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, three counts of being felon in possession of firearms, and witness intimidation.
Sentencing is set for1:30 p.m., on June 11, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. Simonton faces a minimum of 15 years, up to a maximum life sentence in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that an investigation began following the appearance of two young males at Indian Path Hospital in May 2016 with gunshot wounds. One of the victims was Simonton’s son. Detectives developed Simonton as a suspect in the shooting of these two individuals. When officers went to his residence, they found a Glock pistol with extended magazine, which the ATF traced to Simonton’s neighbor. Through the trace, detectives learned the firearm had been purchased at Academy Sports in Johnson City. Academy provided paperwork for the transaction and surveillance video from its store, which reflected Simonton had been present along with a co-defendant during the purchase of the firearm. Additional surveillance video showed that Simonton was present when his then girlfriend purchased another firearm. As the investigation progressed, two co-defendants, one of whom was another son of Simonton, were arrested in possession of crack cocaine. This led to information about Simonton’s involvement in trafficking crack cocaine from a source in Georgia into Sullivan County, Tennessee. Ultimately, the investigation successfully uncovered the firearm used in the shooting of the two young males, an AK63, 7.62 caliber rifle.
After his arrest, and while in federal custody, Simonton threatened a cooperating witness against him in an effort to influence the testimony of the witness. The jury found him guilty of intimidation of that witness.
Law enforcement agencies participating in this joint investigation were the Kingsport Police Department, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Gregory Bowman represented the United States.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive national strategy that creates local partnerships with law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce existing gun laws. It provides more options to prosecutors, allowing them to utilize local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crime face tough sentences. PSN gives each federal district the flexibility it needs to focus on individual challenges that a specific community faces.