Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

November 15, 2012

Defendant in drug ring gets 131/2 years

ASHLAND — One of seven defendants in a federal case involving a Florida-to-Kentucky pill-trafficking pipeline was sentenced Tuesday to 131⁄2 years in prison.

The 162-month sentence handed to Rico Devaughn Tillman is the longest received by any of the defendants.

U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning sentenced Tillman to 130 months on each of two counts of conspiracy to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute, with the terms to run concurrently, and 32 months for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime, with that sentence to run consecutively with the others.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Tillman will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

Bunning also recommended Tillman participate in the Bureau of Prisons’ 500-hour substance abuse treatment program, and that he serve his sentence a the Federal Correctional Institution at Manchester. However, Tillman’s placement will be up to the BOP.

Tillman also will have to serve six years on supervised release following his term of incarceration.

Tillman pleaded guilty in August after Bunning rejected an attempt by his attorney, Steve Owens of Pikeville, to prevent certain evidence from being used against him at trial. Owens had sought to suppress evidence seized from Tillman by a Boyd County sheriff’s deputy following a traffic stop.

Owens argued the deputy, Jesse Delaney, didn’t have the right to search his client and the search violated Tillman’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron L. Walker Jr. countered the search was perfectly legal because Delaney had “reasonable and articulable suspicion” criminal activity was taking place and/or his safety was at risk when he conducted what is known as a “Terry frisk” of the defendant.

According to court records, Delaney stopped the vehicle Tillman was driving — a maroon Honda Accord owned by Charlie Nicole Angell of Ashland, another of the defendants in the case — on Feb. 27 because Tillman wasn’t wearing a seat belt. A pat-down search of Tillman turned up a bag of marijuana, OyxContin and Xanax, a set of brass knuckles and $2,870 in cash.

The sheriff’s department then obtained a search warrant for the vehicle. That search turned up a tan purse containing six plastic bags of cocaine, a .45-caliber handgun and $5,400 cash.

Angell also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and was sentenced last month to 12 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

The purported ringleader of the organization, Richard Allen “Rick” Young, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 13 years.

Defendants Darnell DeShawn Butler and Leonard E. Vaughn, both of Ashland, were sentenced to 108 months and 84 months, respectively, and Christina Y. Mayhone of Huntington was sentenced to 18 months.

The only defendant in the case who hasn’t pleaded guilty is Eldridge “Mookie” Primus, a Florida resident who authorities say supplied Young with pills. Court records do not indicate if Primus has been apprehended.

Young was a major supplier of pills to local drug dealers, including his co-defendants. According to records, he funneled roughly 45,000 oxycodone tablets from Florida to Kentucky between November 2008 and February of this year.

Young supplied thousands of pills to a Boyd County-based trafficking syndicate heded by Anthony “Tony” McKenzie until McKenzie was arrested. McKenzie and seven of his associates subsequently pleaded guilty to federal charges and were sentenced to prison terms.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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