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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Five Sentenced for Roles in Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Drugs

Defendants Conspired to Bring Drugs into SW Virginia from China, Florida, North Carolina

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – Five members of a 22-member conspiracy that brought a controlled substance analogue to Southwest Virginia from as far away as China were sentenced this week in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced today.

“Synthetic drugs are often times more dangerous and addicting than street drugs,” United States Attorney Fishwick said today. “We will continue to dedicate federal resources to working with our law enforcement partners to ending conspiracies like this one. These individuals fed off the addictions of others and for that they have been justly punished.”

This week in District Court, the following defendants were sentenced for their roles in the broader conspiracy:

  • Samuel Lee Courtney, age 55: Previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 564 grams of alpha-PVP, a controlled substance analogue and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Sentenced this week to 117 months in federal prison

  • Bernard Anthony Murphy, age 52: Previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 450 grams of alpha-PVP. Sentenced this week to 84 months in federal prison.

  • Lesley Marie Banks, age 44: Previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 370 grams of alpha-PVP. Sentenced this week to 41 months in federal prison.

  • Eric Cameron Bright, age 47: Previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 10 kilograms of alpha-PVP. Sentenced this week to 84 months in federal prison.

  • Victoria Diane Campbell, age 25: Previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 1.5 kilograms of alpha-PVP. Sentenced this week to 57 months in federal prison.

According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa, those sentenced today, and others members of the conspiracy, disturbed alpha-PVP, a controlled substance analogue, in Southwest Virginia between 2012 and 2015. Members of the conspiracy placed orders of the powder form of alpha-PVP from distributors based in Florida and China and had these items shipped to residential addresses in Wise, Virginia. The conspirators would retrieve the packages and distribute the contents to mid-and-low level dealers in and around Wise, Virginia for distribution to alpha-PVP users.

Members of the conspiracy also regularly transported the hard form of alpha-PVP, commonly known as “Gravel” from suppliers in North Carolina and Tennessee to Wise, Virginia for distribution. As part of the conspiracy, members would break the larger quantities of “Gravel” into smaller amounts for sale to drug users, typically .5 to 1 gram amounts.

The investigation of the case was conducted by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Postal Service, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, the Virginia State Police, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Norton Police Department, the Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office, the Sullivan County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office, the Coeburn Police Department, the Clintwood Police Department and the Wise Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa prosecuted the case for the United States.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated July 14, 2016