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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 25, 2016

Morris Anthoney Phillips Sentenced To 144 Months In Marijuana, Money Laundering And Oxycodone Conspiracies

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On Jan. 19, 2016, Morris Anthoney Phillips, 39, of Culver City, Cal., was sentenced by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 144 months in federal prison for his leadership role in an extensive marijuana, oxycodone and money laundering distribution conspiracy centered in the Eastern District of Tennessee and the Western District of Virginia.  Phillips was the primary source of supply responsible for the distribution of these drugs from the Los Angeles, California area to Tennessee and Virginia. 

According to the plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court Clerk, Phillips admitted that he was accountable for at least 954 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 (30 mg) oxycodone pills.  In July 2011, law enforcement officers coordinated a 500 pound marijuana reversal operation with Phillips in California.  Upon weighing the marijuana, it turned out to be 562 pounds, instead of 500 pounds. Phillips sent another individual to retrieve the money for the additional 62 pounds of marijuana.  The other individual was later pulled over for a traffic stop and a search of his vehicle revealed a quantity of cash commensurate with the price for 62 pounds of marijuana (approximately $34,590.00).  Officers subsequently knocked on the door of Phillips’ residence and he attempted to flee.  Upon seeing officers surrounding the residence, he went back inside the residence and barricaded himself for a period of time.   A search warrant was executed which resulted in the seizure of 562 pounds of marijuana, packaging materials, two .40 caliber pistol magazines, a black holster, and a paper bag with $11,000 in U.S. currency. A 12 year old child was also present in the residence with Phillips during all of these activities.  A search warrant was then obtained for the address in Burbank, where Phillips’ co-conspirator went to get additional monies for the remaining marijuana, and which was operated as a stash house.  A search of that residence revealed $249,015.00 in two suitcases.  One of these suitcases had a hidden compartment built into it to hide the money.  Another suitcase contained $519,920.00 in cash.  A black bag was also found in the residence containing $70,700.00.  In total, approximately 1.2 million dollars was seized from the residences and vehicles searched at the Los Angeles and Burbank addresses.   

Phillips took over dealing to his Tennessee co-conspirators in approximately 2010 after their former Jamaican source of supply was deported back to Jamaica.  Phillips flew from Los Angeles to either Nashville or Knoxville on at least 14 separate occasions dating back to March 2012 to meet with co-defendants Glenn Draughn, 69, and James Wright, 59, both of Kingsport, Tenn., and pick up bulk cash for drugs he was delivering to them and others.  By 2013, Phillips involved his brother, co-defendant Antonio Barrington Parsley, 24, of Culver City, Cal., in the criminal conspiracies and introduced him to Draughn and Wright, among others. Usually, these meetings occurred every two months and involved at least $100,000.00 in cash each time.  Phillips and/or Parsley took the money they received from Draughn, Wright and others and put it in a hidden compartment in their luggage to conceal and transport back to Los Angeles.

In July 2014, Parsley, Wright and Draughn were all arrested in Nashville, Tenn., at a meeting in a local motel room near the airport.  Parsley conducted this transaction for Phillips.  A search of the motel room resulted in the seizure of approximately $100,000.00 in cash, which was payment for another marijuana shipment from California to Tennessee, in addition to $10,500.00 for approximately 100 oxycodone pills.  The pills had been hidden in a Skittles candy bag, re-sealed and placed inside Parsley’s suitcase. 

Others who have been previously sentenced in this prosecution include Draughn, Parsley, Larry Williams, 68, of Mendota, Va., and Kenny Russell, 57, of Kingsport, Tenn., who were sentenced to 63 months, 46 months, 140 months and 60 months, in federal prison respectively.  Wright is scheduled to be sentenced in February 2016.

“These sentences send a clear message that drug and money laundering violations are serious crimes.  IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners, by providing our financial investigative expertise, to stop the flow of illegal drugs into our communities,” stated Tamera Cantu, Acting Special Agent in Charge.

Law enforcement agencies participating in this investigation include: the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; IRS, Criminal Investigation Division; Second District Judicial Drug Task Force; Kingsport Police Department;  Russell County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office; and, LA IMPACT (Los Angeles Interagency Police Apprehension Crime Task Force), which includes the Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Alhambra, Pomona, Inglewood and Culver City Police Departments.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor represented the United States.  

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated January 25, 2016