Howard split the sentencing into two sessions, one this morning and one this afternoon.
As in Wednesday’s sentencings, the defendants, including one civilian and one former dispatcher, delivered their regrets for their participation in the operation to work for what they believed was a drug trafficking operation with ties to a Mexican cartel.
Some family members sobbed as Howard read the sentences, one defendant blew a kiss to his family as he was escorted from the federal courthouse in Greenville and one turned and waved.
In the morning sessions, Howard sentenced Adrienne Moody, Corey Jackson, Jimmie Pair Jr. and Curtis Boone to 87 months in prison and Alaina Sue-Kam-Ling to 38 months.
In the afternoon sessions, the only civilian in the case, Crystal Pierce, was sentenced to 6 months while Tosha Dailey, a dispatcher, was sentenced to 24 months. Thomas Jefferson Allen II, who boasted of ties to Russian mobsters, was sentenced to 87 months, Alphonso Ponton 48 months and Kavon Phillips 57 months.
Antonio Tillmon, the only person to plead not guilty in the case is scheduled for sentencing in August.
In a statement released this evening, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina John Stuart Bruce said, "Our office was pleased to partner with the FBI and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section in this important case. When law enforcement officers breach their public trust by agreeing to assist criminal organizations for profit, they must be held accountable, as was done in this prosecution."
Said North Carolina FBI Special Agent in Charge John Strong, "They vowed to protect and serve, but instead these law enforcement officers sold their badges to line their own pockets. Public corruption is the number one criminal priority of the FBI and we will work aggressively to protect the public trust."
Moody: Moody’s attorney, Christopher Young, told the court, “She knew she wasn’t delivering candy.”
He said his client never carried a gun in the operations, and soon became scared. “She realized it wasn’t a run of the mill Roanoke Rapids drug operation. She thought she was dealing with a real Mexican drug operation.”
United States Attorney Lauren Bell countered, however, that Moody asking for drugs to sell on her own, “doesn’t show a fear of the cartel. It shows she was willing to embrace the cartel. She chose to come back time and time again and recruited two other people.”
Moody expressed regrets for her participation in the operation.
Jackson: Keith Williams, Jackson’s attorney, told the court the case was based on fiction and the belief there was a Mexican drug trafficking operation involved. As far as the drugs, Williams said, “There were small pieces of samples. It’s a fictitious story written by the government.”
Jackson told the court he has stopped and reflected on his involvement. He said his involvement broke the oaths he took to protect his friends, family and co-workers. “I offer my deepest apologies.”
United States Attorney Tobin Lathan told the court there was no fiction in the case. “What matters is the defendant’s conduct. That was moving large quantities of drugs. He took an active role. His role was an active one.”
Pair: Numerous letters were written on Pair’s behalf, his attorney, Neil Morrison, told the court, describing him as a loving man, married to his wife for 28 years.
Pair apologized to the court for the position it was put in following his arrest in the case. “I slipped, I did wrong … I ask everybody for forgiveness.”
Curtis Boone: Boone’s attorney, Raymond Tarlton, told the court, despite his “fall from grace,” his client pulled himself up by the bootstraps and got a job with Don Pancho outside Halifax. “He was recognized as employee of the month. He was promoted as a supervisor.”
Boone apologized to the court. “I apologize to my family for what they’ve had to endure. I wasn’t a bad person, a corrupt person. I was trying to provide for my family. I’m trying to teach my son don’t make the same mistakes I did.”
Lathan called Boone an armed guard for what he believed was a drug trafficking organization.
Sue-Kam-Ling: “She was desperate. She needed the money,” her attorney, Wayne Eads said. The $2,000 bribe payment she received went to pay for electricity, rent and school supplies.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life … I’m not a bad person. I made a bad choice.”
Phillips: Phillips hugged a family member before taking a seat with his attorney, Kelly Greene.
Greene told of how his client’s daughter was born with a hole in her heart. “It’s very important to know how he financially supports her.”
Since his arrest, Phillips took a job with Perdue, hanging chickens. “He’s a nice young, man, polite,” Greene said.
Phillips told the court, “I accept the punishment you give me.”
He blew a kiss to family members as he was taken away.
Ponton: Howard read into the record a letter with 293 signatures from people in the Weldon community supporting Ponton.
The letter spoke of the children he has helped. “His mistake was getting involved with the wrong people,” it said.
The letter asked for a second chance for him.
“I will not make the same mistake,” Ponton said. “You will never see me in court again.”
Ponton waved to his family as he was escorted out.
Allen: Allen’s attorney, Walter Paramore III, said his client participated in one operation and ceased.
Lathan said, however, that didn’t mean he didn’t try to expand the operation, by using what he claimed were his ties to Russia.
Allen apologized to the “people he disgraced,” including law enforcement, his family and himself.
He told the court he was thankful for his pretrial release, which allowed him to be with his family. He said he will spend his prison time working on self-improvement.
Dailey: A dispatcher, Dailey received $500 for running a license tag, her attorney, H.P. Williams Jr., told the court. She received $2,000 for one operation she went on.
Dailey told the court, as she looked into the faces of her family members, “I felt I didn’t deserve the love I have. I have learned sometimes if it’s too good to be true it must be. The only thing I can do is move on.”
Pierce: Pierce was the only civilian in the case. Her attorney, Myron Hill Jr., told the court, Pierce was recruited by Ikeisha Jacobs who was sentenced Wednesday. “The only person she knew was Ms. Moody.”
Pierce suffers from numerous physical maladies, Hill said.
With a long sentence, he said, “There is a good chance it would be a death sentence.”
Pierce told the court, “I apologize to the federal government and my family. I take full responsibility. I learned my lesson.”