Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 7, 2014

21 people convicted in crackdown on pseudoephedrine

Somerset — Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery and Pulaski County Sheriff Todd Wood announced Friday that every one of the Defendants served with their indictment warrants from a 2012 widespread investigation into the importation and purchasing of vast quantities of pseudoephedrine for the manufacture of methamphetamine have been convicted from that case and those cases are final.

In November, 2012, the Pulaski County Grand Jury returned indictments against 21 individuals for their role in the purchasing and importing of vast amounts of pseudoephedrine for the express purpose of the manufacture of methamphetamine.  

The indictments concluded a six month investigation by the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office into the causes behind troubling reports of carloads of people travelling all over the state and bulk quantities of pseudoephedrine.  

The Sheriff's Office determined that this pseudoephedrine was making its way back into Pulaski County and was being purchased at $25 to $50 per box (or was simply being traded for methamphetamine).  

Through the use of MethCheck, the Sheriff's Office began to notice a pattern in the timing of the purchasing of the pseudoephedrine and the people making the purchases. Other active methamphetamine investigations focused on individuals who were also popping up as purchasing the pseudoephedrine.  Sheriff Wood then tasked his entire narcotics unit to this case. The Sheriff's Office through the interview process established the general parameters of the syndicate. Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery assigned Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney David L. Dalton to review the cases, prepare the charges, and ultimately prosecute the cases.  These efforts resulted in the indictments for engaging in organized crime and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

According to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney David L. Dalton, following the indictments, the Defendant's began to offer varying levels of cooperation.  Their cooperation, along with their behavior following the indictments as well as the facts of each case, resulted in following pleas and sentences:

• Walter Davidson, 40, pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime; conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and manufacture of methamphetamine — 15 years in prison.

• James R. Carrender, 24, pleaded guilty to manufacture of methamphetamine; engaging in organized crime, and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine — 12 years in prison.

• Amanda Brown, 29, pleaded guilty to manufacture of methamphetamine; conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; and engaging in organized crime - 20 years in prison.

• Cody Whisenant pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a methamphetamine precursor and facilitation to manufacture methamphetamine — five years in prison.

• Gary Curtis pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a methamphetamine precursor and facilitation to manufacture methamphetamine - 5 years in prison.

• Nathan Shelton pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a methamphetamine precursor two years in prison.

• Audrey Randolph pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor and second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance — 15 years in prison probated for five years (already revoked from probation).

• Kevin Marcum  pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine — 10 years probated for five years.

• Jennifer Marcum pleaded guilty by Alford v. North Carolina — two counts of unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor — five years in prison pretrial diverted for five years.

• Johnny Burchfield pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor — 10 years in prison pretrial diverted for three years.

• Ashley Sluder pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor and solicitation to manufacture methamphetamine — seven years in prison probated for three years.

• Cody Sears - pleadedguilty to engaging in organized crime and complicity to manufacture methamphetamine — 15 years in prison probated for five years.

• Steven Burchfield pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor — five years in prison probated for three years.

• Misty Benefiel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and engaging in organized crime - 10 years in prison probated for three years (already revoked from probation).

• Jimmy Casada pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine — 20 years in prison probated for five years.

• Kendra Epperson pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime; conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; and first-degree bail jumping — 20 years in prison.

• Carmen Wilkerson pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor - 5 years in prison pretrial diverted for three years.

• Casey Burchfield pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor — 10 years in prison diverted for three years (already removed from pretrial diversion program - received probated sentence).

• Thomas Brown pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime and possession of a methamphetamine precursor — 10 years in prison probated for two years.

• Joyce Brinson pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine - 10 years in prison probated for four years.

Montgomery said that this type of conspiracy, which is normally type of prosecution attempted by federal authorities, was made possible at the state level due to the extraordinary efforts of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

 “Sheriff Wood and his team made this case a priority,” said Montgomery. “ We tried to do the same.”  Montgomery also praised Dalton for his efficient handling of the cases.

Sheriff Wood commended the efforts put forth by Montgomery and his staff, along with the detectives and deputies of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Division.

“The Commonwealth's Attorney Office along with our narcotics investigators worked closely in bringing those involved in this investigation to justice,” said Wood. “Team work has proven again what can be accomplished when agencies work closely together in protecting our citizens.”

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