A Chattanooga man caught with 20 pounds of marijuana and $61,205 in cash was sent away on Thursday to serve seven years in federal prison.
Eric James told Judge Curtis Collier it was the first time he had been locked up. He said he "had gotten caught up with the wrong person." James had told police he was fronted the large amount of illegal drugs by a former federal inmate.
Judge Collier noted that James had not worked since he drove a cab five years ago.
Attorney Graham Swafford said he had told James that if he gets into trouble again after getting out of prison "cars will be flying before you get out again."
The attorney also said, in arguing for leniency, that "it costs more to incarcerate someone for this type of offense as it does to go to flight school, law school or McCallie."
Judge Collier said it is not typical for someone to have $61,205 with them, saying that excluded everyone in the courtroom except perhaps attorney Swafford.
James was arrested July 3, 2011, by the ATF and Chattanooga Police. He told officers that if two black males had come after him he would have shot them. He said he had earlier been robbed by two black males dressed as police officers. James had two guns on him when he was caught. That brought a mandatory five-year sentence in addition to the other time.