OAKLAND – Frank Anthony Morton, was convicted of two federal drug trafficking offenses, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine, by a federal jury on Oct. 10, 2014, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Jay Fitzpatrick.
The jury found that Morton, 26, of Pittsburg, worked with his uncle, Miguel Nunez, to deliver a kilogram of cocaine on Aug. 28, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. Nunez, 46, of San Leandro previously pleaded guilty to the cocaine trafficking offenses and is awaiting sentencing. The guilty verdict against Morton followed a four-day jury trial before the Honorable Phyllis J. Hamilton, United States District Court Judge. Following the jury’s guilty verdict, Morton was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals.
Evidence at trial showed that Morton and Nunez arrived to a Walmart shopping center parking lot, located at 8400 Edgewater Drive in Oakland, at approximately 1:00 p.m. Recorded telephone calls introduced at trial showed that Nunez had previously arranged to meet a cocaine buyer at this location and agreed to sell a kilogram of cocaine in exchange for $18,000. Agents testified that Nunez and Morton arrived in a large white box truck and were observed exiting the truck and entering a nearby video game store. Inside, Morton and Nunez were captured on security cameras as they stood at the storefront windows overlooking the parking lot. The government’s drug trafficking expert testified that their behavior was consistent with counter-surveillance techniques. The video game store security camera also captured Nunez handing Morton a white paper bag, later determined to contain the kilogram brick of cocaine. Morton and Nunez exited the video game store and were again captured on exterior security cameras as they walked towards the cocaine buyer’s vehicle. Morton entered the buyer’s car and placed the kilogram of cocaine on the floorboard while his uncle went into a nearby juice store. DEA agents arrested Nunez and Morton immediately after the cocaine delivery.
Later the same afternoon, Nunez was due in federal court on a separate drug trafficking case. In April of 2013, Nunez was arrested in possession of approximately five kilograms of cocaine. Nunez was subsequently indicted and released on bond while his case was pending. Later, DEA received a tip that Nunez was continuing to distribute cocaine while on pre-trial release. DEA agents resumed their investigation into Nunez, which lead to the arrests of Nunez and Morton in August of 2013.
Morton’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2014 before Judge Hamilton in Oakland. Nunez’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5, 2014. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of the convicted offenses, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1),(b)(1)(C) and 860 is a twenty year term of imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Aaron Wegner and Katie Burroughs Medearis are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Ana Guerra and Vanessa Vargas. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by DEA.
(Morton second superseding indictment )