Young Atlanta Drug Dealer Given 19 Years, 7 Months

Friday, July 18, 2008

A young Atlanta drug dealer, who Federal Judge Allan Edgar said was the main supplier for a drug ring based in the Cookeville, Tn., area, was sentenced Thursday to 19 years and seven months in prison.

Attorneys had argued that Kirk Spence was not really the leader in the drug conspiracy. "He couldn't lead a two-horse funeral," attorney Edward Furr Jr. of Decatur, Ga., said.

But Judge Edgar said during the trial he conducted that the contact person in Atlanta was always Spence.

Prosecutors said he supplied over 100 kilos of crack cocaine from Atlanta to the Upper Cumberland from January 2006 until he and 15 others were arrested in January 2007.

Attorney Furr said, "You have a real, soft, sweet, gullible human being here. He got on for the ride, but it was a lot faster ride than he was prepared to take."

He said Spence never made much money off the large-scale drug trafficking, but some in Tennessee "lived high on the hog for an awfully long time."

Spence would have faced a much stiffer sentence had he had a criminal record.

Also Thursday, Judge Edgar sentenced a ringleader in the operation, Joshua "Tubby" Smith to 31 years and eight months.

John Paul Hassler of Cookeville got 18 years and six months, and Brian Maldonado of Crossville was sentenced to serve 15 years and eight months.

In sentencings on Wednesday, Dawn Polites of Cookeville got 33 months and Samantha Renee Reynolds of Cookeville was placed on probation. Grayland Darty and Larry Mahan Jr., both of Cookeville, each got five years. Michael Van Pelt of Baxter, Tn., received six months. Chad Greenwood of Knoxville got 35 months.

Brian Matheny and Richard Kontour, both of Cookeville, received 10-year terms. James Eldridge of Crossville was given 37 months.

Michael V. Smith got a 10-year term, and Anthony Price must do 37 months.

The two-year investigation was conducted by agents from TBI, the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force, the HIDTA Task Force, and Cookeville Police CNET officers.

Two defendants went to trial and the rest pleaded guilty.

Michael V. Smith and Joshua Smith, who are not related, went to trial before Judge Edgar and were convicted on April 25.

Agents said the probe centered on a clothing store “Urban Unlimited” located on West Jackson Street in Cookeville. Agents said the store, owned by Maldonado, was a front for the drug sales.



Firefighters Battle Hard To Access Trailer Fire Monday Afternoon

Chattanooga Fire Department was dispatched to 955 O'Grady Dr. at 2:45 p.m. on Monday on multiple reports of a structure fire. A heavy black column of smoke could be seen from Highway 27 as firetrucks from downtown Station 1 responded around the river. Upon arrival, it was discovered that the fully-engulfed structure was an occupied residence sitting close to a quarter of mile ... (click for more)

Corker, Perdue Back Trump Plan On Afghanistan

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he supports President Donald J. Trump’s stance on the way forward in Afghanistan.   Senator Corker said, “I had the opportunity to talk with Secretary Tillerson in advance of this evening’s address, and while I look forward to receiving additional details, I support the direction President ... (click for more)

The Soul Of Chattanooga Is In Trouble

As a child growing up in the Chattanooga area, at an early age I became fascinated with the history that cloaks the city. In those days there was enough pollution to cover the town and its history but that didn't stop tourists from coming to visit Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and the Chickamauga battlefield.     Chattanooga's leadership was not very far sighted ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Writing From Bragg Avenue

Far and away, my favorite comment on destroying statues appeared on my Facebook page the other day and, believe it or not, it was the clear-minded Times Free Press Sports Editor Stephen Hargis who penned, “This statue offends me! It must be torn down!” Underneath his fiery words, the long-suffered UT football fan posted a picture of the bronze monument outside of Bryant-Denny stadium ... (click for more)

No. 25 Vols Work On Situational Football On Monday

Tennessee held Monday morning's fall camp practice at Neyland Stadium as coach Burch Jones and the Vols, who are ranked No. 25 in the preseason Associated Press poll, focused on situational football. "Right now, we have to have the discipline to execute," Jones said. "Football is too hard of a game as it is from the technical aspect of things, from fundamentals, effort ... (click for more)

Covenant Names Neal Young Head Men's Basketball Coach

After a national search of candidates, the Covenant men's basketball program has a new head coach as director of athletics Tim Sceggel has named Neal Young the 16th head coach in program history. Young comes to Covenant after spending the last four years as head coach at Goshen (Ind.) College. In addition to his head coaching role at Goshen, Young was an associate athletic ... (click for more)