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.

Chattanooga Railroad Book Now Due Out About Oct. 20

The new book on Chattanooga area railroads being published by had an unexpected delay and will now be out around Oct. 20, author John Wilson said. Railroads In and Around Chattanooga , with many photos by photographer Wes Schultz, will have 568 pages and 1,546 photos and maps. It will be in the same softcover, 11 1/2 x 8 format as the ... (click for more)

Judge Greenholtz Picks Up Papers To Seek Election To Criminal Court Post

Tom Greenholtz, who was recently sworn in as judge of Criminal Court, Division II, has picked up papers to run in the March 3, 2016, election. He was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam after Rebecca Stern stepped down in the middle of her term. Those picking up papers earlier were Assistant Public Defender Mike Little, Soddy Daisy Judge Marty Lasley and Assistant Public Defender ... (click for more)

Regulations As A Whole On Signal Mountain

A few years ago I was flying over Chattanooga on my way to Atlanta.  The sun had just come up and I enjoyed picking out Signal Mountain’s location, on Walden’s Ridge, in the morning light.  What was amazing was that I could not tell that a town existed under the tree canopy.  I hope that the same can be said 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  During last ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Must Learn To Tell

On July 4th of this year, FBI agents – acting on a tip -- arrested Alexander Ciccolo, a 23-year-old with known mental problems, as he carried a duffle bag full of automatic attack weapons. Moments before, he had bought the illegal firearms from an undercover informant outside of Boston. As agents later scoured his apartment, they found bomb-making equipment including a pressure ... (click for more)

Healthy Silverdale Takes Down Grace For 5-1A Volleyball Title

With season-long injuries healed and a full contingent of players available, Silverdale Baptist Academy completed a run for the District 5-1A volleyball tournament championship by sweeping Grace Baptist Academy, 3-0, on Thursday. The game scores were 25-22, 25-20 and 25-18. The host Lady Seahawks advance to the Region 3-1A tournament on Monday at Sale Creek and will play ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Wins 7-AA Volleyball Over Notre Dame

Notre Dame and Signal Mountain seem to bring out the best in each other, at least when the sport is volleyball. These were the top two teams in District 7-AA this fall.  Signal got the top seed based on its 3-0 win at Notre Dame after the Lady Irish had taken a 3-1 match at Signal early in the season. But with all the chips on the line for the 7-AA tournament championship, ... (click for more)