Two leaders of the Craig Petties drug organization were caught with cell phones while they were prisoners at the federal prison in Mason, Tennessee last year and a third was suspected of trying to have a kilogram of cocaine delivered to him in prison.
That is what federal prosecutors alleged and defense attorneys claimed Thursday, Jan. 31, during a sentencing hearing in Memphis federal court for Demetrius Fields.
Fields pleaded guilty to drug and racketeering conspiracy and was among those in the organization who testified against Martin and Clinton Lewis at their 2012 trial on drug and racketeering conspiracy and murder for hire. Both were convicted and are awaiting sentencing.
Federal prosecutors declined to file any motions seeking a downward departure in sentencing guidelines for Fields, despite his cooperation, because they say he tried to have the drugs delivered to the prison.
Fields and his attorneys denied he did so.
“I’ve had nothing to do with any drugs since I was locked up,” he told Memphis Federal Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard called Memphis Police Detective Tony Parks of the Organized Crime Unit to testify about his interview with Tamara Richardson.
Richardson was indicted by a Memphis federal grand jury in August on one count of possession with intent to distribute the cocaine. She is scheduled to plead guilty to the charge at a Feb. 7 hearing.
Parks testified that Richardson told him she came from Texas by bus with the cocaine after Fields called her from the prison in Mason with a cell phone to set up her delivery of the cocaine.
Parks said he found the number still in her cell phone after she was arrested with the cocaine. He also said he tried to get her to call the number so he could record Fields but that Richardson refused to do that.
Defense attorneys Michael Stengel and Lee Gerald argued that Parks should have subpoenaed phone records and done a more thorough investigation and pointed out to Mays that no cocaine was ever found on Fields in prison.
Pritchard argued that the level of proof wasn’t about charging Fields with an additional criminal offense but an explanation of why the government was not filing a motion that would urge Mays to substantially depart from sentencing guidelines for Fields.
Stengel and Gerald also submitted disciplinary paperwork from prison officials in Mason that show Bobby Cole and Charles Floyd, two members of the Petties drug organization, were written up for having cell phones at the prison in March 2012 – the same time Richardson was arrested.
Cole was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison by Mays in October for the role he played in the last two years of the organization, shipping millions of dollars to Mexico as tons of cocaine and marijuana where shipped from Mexico into Memphis for distribution here and in several states.
Floyd’s house in Memphis was search in May 2007, early in the federal investigation of Petties and Floyd began cooperating with authorities, according to an affidavit filed in federal court by Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer and Memphis Police officer Therman Richardson.
Prosecutors made motions in the the cases of Cole and Floyd requesting lower prison sentences citing "substantial cooperation" by each.
Both sides in Fields’ case argued over the sentencing issues for three hours before Mays said he would resume the hearing Friday, Feb. 1, at 1:30 p.m. Mays is expected to rule on some of the issues either before or as he sentences Fields.
Last year, the federal prison in Mason was home to a number of members of the Petties drug organization, the largest and most violent drug organization ever tried in Memphis Federal Court.
Most were there as possible witnesses in the Memphis federal court trial of Martin and Clinton Lewis, the only two defendants in the drug case to go to trial.
The Lewises were also housed at the prison.