Federal Jury Finds Minnesota Man Guilty Of Conspiring To Distribute Controlled Substances
MINNEAPOLIS— On Friday, in federal court, a jury found a Twin Cities’ man guilty of conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, and other controlled substances. Following a four-day trial, the jury convicted Eric Michelle Hunter, age 40, of Bloomington. He was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. In addition Hunter was convicted of five counts of distribution of controlled substances, one count of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, two counts of using and carrying firearms during and in relation to drug-trafficking crimes, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of attempted witness tampering. Hunter was charged on December 10, 2012, in a superseding indictment.
The evidence presented at trial proved that from September 14, 2011, through July 24, 2012, the defendant conspired with others to distribute controlled substances, primarily heroin. On five occasions, Hunter aided and abetted the distribution of controlled substances, including heroin and benzylpiperazine, commonly known as BZP. He also conspired to distribute numerous other controlled substances, including two other designer drugs with street names of “Foxy” and “Ivory Wave.”
Moreover, on May 2, 2012, Hunter aided and abetted using and carrying a .357-caliber, semi-automatic pistol, and on May 22, 2012, he aided and abetted using and carrying an AA Arms, 9 millimeter machine gun. Because Hunter is a convicted felon, he is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms at any time. He was convicted in Mississippi of grand larceny in 1990, possession of cocaine in 1994, felon in possession of a deadly weapon in 1994, and intimidation and assault on a law enforcement officer in 1995. In addition, he was convicted in federal court in the District of Minnesota in 1998 for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.
On October 9, 2012, co-defendant Rikki Lee Gilow, age 20, also of Bloomington, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. In her plea agreement, Gilow admitted conspiring with Hunter and Jerry Anthony Harvey to distribute controlled substances. In addition, Gilow admitted assisting Hunter by selling two firearms to a government agent in connection with two separate drug transactions. Harvey is currently pending trial on the conspiracy charge and one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin.
For his crime, the defendant faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison on the conspiracy charge, 30 years on each of the distribution charges, and life for the possession with intent to distribute heroin charge. Hunter also faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison on the firearm charges, a potential maximum penalty of ten years on each charge of being a felon in possession, and a potential maximum penalty of 20 years on the attempted witness tampering charge. United States District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.
This case was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Dakota County Drug Task Force. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas M. Hollenhorst and Julie E. Allyn.