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.