Columbia Man Affiliated with Street Gang Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison for Firearms and Drug Offenses
GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA — Cornelius Mayberry, 41, of Gaffney, was sentenced to more than 34 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to assaulting a law enforcement officer, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Brandy Scates, 37, also of Gaffney, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Evidence presented to the Court showed that on May 3, 2018, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office conducted a sting operation at a motel in Cherokee County and arrested Mayberry with two kilograms of methamphetamine. A search of Mayberry’s residence revealed another kilogram of methamphetamine, a bag of fentanyl, three firearms, and ammunition. Mayberry was initially charged by the State and made bond.
On August 27, 2018, a Homeland Security task force officer and a Cherokee County captain were conducting surveillance in the case and made a traffic stop of a vehicle Mayberry was driving. The task force officer advised Mayberry that Mayberry had outstanding federal warrants. Mayberry resisted arrest and struggled against the task force officer. The captain crawled into the back of the SUV, attempting to restrain Mayberry from behind. Mayberry drove the SUV forward, with the task force officer’s torso in the driver’s side window, and knocked the captain out of the SUV on to the ground. The vehicle hit a ditch and flipped onto the task force officer, crushing his legs.
Mayberry climbed out of the flipped SUV—stepping on top of the pinned task force officer—and began to fight the captain. The captain was able to put Mayberry in handcuffs but had to release Mayberry to call for help for the task force officer, who was still pinned and significantly injured under the SUV. Mayberry came into federal custody on April 4, 2019, and he has remained in custody since.
Evidence presented to the Court regarding Brandi Scates showed that in 2018, Scates conspired with Mayberry to distribute methamphetamine and was found in possession of 196.8 grams of methamphetamine on August 21, 2018.
“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, and we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “Those who put them in harm’s way in the course of committing other crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We are grateful to HSI and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office for their work in bringing these defendants to justice.”
“This verdict sends a strong message, that those who sell and distribute this poison in our communities or target law enforcement officers will be held accountable,” said Ronnie Martinez, special agent in charge of HSI Charlotte, which covers North and South Carolina. “Thanks to the great work of the agents and officers involved in this case and to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, our community is much safer.”
“This is a great example of a partnership between local and federal agencies working together to remove major distributors of illegal narcotics from our neighborhoods,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller. “These career drug dealers will no longer have the ability to push poison on our streets after receiving these lengthy prison sentences. We are grateful for the work of all involved to help secure the lengthy prison sentences, which should send a message to others in our community who choose to push poison on our streets: you could be next.”
United States District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks sentenced Mayberry to 414 months in prison, to be followed by court-ordered supervision. Judge Hendricks sentenced Scates to 120 months in prison, to be followed by court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie Lea Schoen is prosecuting the case.
Brook Andrews, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Brook.Andrews@usdoj.gov, (803) 929-3000.