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Press Release

Marion County Sheriff’s Department To Receive Over $750,000 Forfeited In East Tennessee Drug Trafficking Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

Cash and vehicles forfeited totaled $961,413.93

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. –The Marion County Sheriff’s Department will receive a check in the amount of $751,515.71, which represents the majority of funds forfeited in a marijuana trafficking case prosecuted in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.

Jackie Morrison, 66, Ollie Frizzell, 53, Sammy Nance, 51, all of Whitwell, Tenn., along with Julio Barbosa, Sr., 60, of Laredo, Texas, were charged and convicted of offenses related to the scheme, which operated from 2004 to 2011. The operation was responsible for transporting over 1000 pounds of marijuana from Texas to East Tennessee, where it was distributed.

Morrison was arrested as he was returning from Laredo, Texas to Jasper, Tenn., in November 2011 with 66 pounds of marijuana in his pickup truck. Searches of the truck and residences for Morrison and his coconspirators resulted in the seizure of approximately 86 pounds of marijuana, guns, explosives, drug ledgers, cash, vehicles, and bank accounts.

After a jury trial, Morrison was found guilty of a conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, and 28 counts of structuring money to evade currency reporting requirements. He was sentenced to serve 72 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release. The jury also found that $779,033.23, was forfeitable as money involved in the structuring offenses, and $820.00 and a 2003 Ford F-250 pickup truck were forfeitable as property involved in drug trafficking offenses.

Nance pleaded guilty to three counts of distribution of marijuana. He was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release. Nance was acquitted by the jury of the conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. However, the jury forfeited an ATV used by Nance to distribute the marijuana for which he pleaded guilty.

Frizzell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. She was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release. She also forfeited a 2005 Toyota Tacoma and $159,700.70.

Barbosa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and money laundering. He was sentenced to serve 48 months in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release.

Of the total $961,413.93 ordered by the court to be forfeited, $939,553.93 was cash and $21,860.00, was the value of vehicles and an ATV.

U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said, “To ensure that crime doesn’t pay, federal law allows the forfeiture of property used to facilitate crimes and assets obtained through their illegal activity. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee works with our federal and local law enforcement agency partners to identify, seize, and forfeit property in an effective and powerful strategy in the fight against crime as part of the Department of Justice’s asset forfeiture program.”

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Glenn “Andy” Anderson stated, “In keeping with ATF Chattanooga’s Frontline strategy to address and reduce violent crime and protect the public, our partnership with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has once again proven to be invaluable in concentrating on criminal groups. This investigation has had many phases and still continues. At this juncture, it is with great pleasure to share these proceeds of ill-gotten gains with Sheriff Burnett and his office.”

Marion County Sheriff Ronnie “Bo” Burnett stated, “The Marion County Sheriff’s Office committed personnel to work with ATF Chattanooga seven years ago. During that time the working relationship with the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been invaluable. The streets and neighborhoods of Marion County are much safer today because of this strong partnership. This case is one of many successful cases that has been prosecuted as a result of this partnership. The Sheriff’s Office is grateful that this partnership has paid off not only to get criminals off of the streets but to also ensure that the Sheriff’s Office has the needed funding to hire more personnel, conduct training, and obtain updated investigative equipment.”

In addition to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, the ATF had a significant role in the investigation which led to the subsequent conviction and sentencing of these individuals. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay Woods and Gregg Sullivan represented the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne-Marie Svolto assisted with the forfeiture.

The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program is a nationwide law enforcement initiative that removes the tools of crime from criminal organizations, deprives wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes, recovers property that may be used to compensate victims, and deters crime. The most important objective of the program is strengthening law enforcement efforts to combat crime. Equitable sharing further enhances this law enforcement objective by fostering cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Any state or local law enforcement agency that directly participates in an investigation or prosecution that results in a federal forfeiture may request an equitable share of the net proceeds of the forfeiture.

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Updated March 18, 2015