Two Columbia Men Sentenced for Cocaine Conspiracy
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two Columbia, Mo., men have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine in Boone County, Mo., and elsewhere.
Levi McLean Franklin Coolley, 36, and Jonathan Richard Gray, 36, both of Columbia, were sentenced on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes. Both men were sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Coolley to forfeit to the government $54,399, which constitutes the profits of illegal drug trafficking and which was seized from investment accounts.
Coolley and Gray both pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Coolley also pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana and a conspiracy to commit money laundering by utilizing his business, Midwest Audio Visions.
Coolley’s role in the drug-trafficking conspiracies included supervising the distribution efforts of several people in Columbia. He sometimes weighed out and assisted in packaging cocaine and/or marijuana, distributed cocaine and/or marijuana and collected money from the sale of the cocaine and/or marijuana, but Coolley also had other persons do this for him.
Coolley arranged for the purchase and transportation of cocaine and marijuana from various locations, both inside and outside the state, to Columbia. In one incident, Coolley purchased cocaine and arranged to have it transported from Texas. Co-conspirators were stopped in Kansas with approximately four kilograms of cocaine. After this incident, Coolley arranged for his suppliers to bring the cocaine to him, rather than him providing the driver. Two or three earlier trips from Texas were successful in delivering more than three kilograms of cocaine to Columbia.
Coolley purchased some of the cocaine and marijuana from co-defendant Samuel Raphael Johnson, 37, of Kansas City. Coolley purchased at least 40 kilograms of cocaine from Johnson, which was redistributed by Coolley and others. The last known transaction between Coolley and Johnson occurred on Nov. 7, 2011, when co-defendant Eric Paxton Pyle, 36, of Columbia, traveled to Kansas City, Mo., to pay Johnson for an earlier cocaine sale and to pick up more cocaine for Coolley. (Pyle has pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and awaits sentencing.)
The next day, at approximately 2:40 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2011, officers of the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department were dispatched on an alarm call to Johnson’s residence, where they discovered evidence of a break-in. When they searched Johnson’s residence, they found 72.42 grams of cocaine, 75.47 grams of crack cocaine and 18.66 kilograms of marijuana. Johnson, who pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy, admitted that he sold cocaine to Coolley for $20,000 per kilogram. Johnson was sentenced on April 7, 2015, to 15 years in federal prison without parole.
In order to conceal the money generated by his unlawful conduct, Coolley established a business, Midwest Audio Visions, to launder the proceeds of his drug distribution. Coolley invested some of the profits from the sale of controlled substances into his stereo and window-tinting business in order to mask and conceal the funds, and to give the illusion that the money was from a legitimate source rather than drug-trafficking. Mixing drug-trafficking proceeds with legitimate funds allowed Coolley to inflate his business’s success, and allowed him to withdraw money and invest it in real estate and investment accounts.
Gray’s role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy included ordering cocaine from larger distributors so he could redistribute the cocaine to others, weighing out cocaine and cutting it, packaging it, distributing it to others and collecting money from the sale of the cocaine. Gray sold cocaine, not only in the Columbia and Boone County area, but would also send a person to the Lake of the Ozarks to sell cocaine to his customers and to pick up money. Gray admitted that he is responsible for the distribution of more than five kilograms of cocaine.
Coolley and Gray are among 18 defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case. Pyle is the only defendant who remains to be sentenced.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez. It was investigated by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.