A 31-year-old man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison by a federal court in South Carolina on drug-related charges. He will then have five years of supervised release. The federal system does not allow for parole. The man also agreed to forfeiture of several pieces of property, including jewelry, two vehicles and $500,000.
Several months earlier, the man pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine. According to law enforcement, the man led a cocaine trafficking organization that involved getting cocaine from Atlanta, distributing it and collecting proceeds. Furthermore, law enforcement said the man maintained his status through various means, including intimidation and violence. As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, heroin, guns, vehicles, jewelry and cash.
Three also were also sentenced in connection to the case. A 28-year-old man, a 39-year-old man and a 32-year old man all pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine. The 28-year-old man also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The 28-year-old man faces 15 years in federal prison and five years of supervised release while the other two face six and five years in federal prison, respectively, and four years each of supervised release.
Pleading guilty instead of going to trial is a strategy that may be used in some cases. It can allow a person to serve a lighter sentence on lesser charges. However, an attorney may look at the circumstances and advise another court of action. For example, if evidence was obtained illegally, it could be ruled inadmissable. Certain types of evidence might also be challenged in court. Eyewitness accounts could be unreliable, and forensic evidence could have been mishandled or misinterpreted.