Criminal Justice News

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Member of Cherry Hill’s Hillside Drug Distribution Conspiracy Sentenced To 25 Years In Federal Prison

Admitted to the Murder of Baltimore Man in 2012

Baltimore, Maryland – On October 13, 2017, United States District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Leonard Chase a/k/a “Nard”, age 23, of Baltimore, Maryland, to 25 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise including, but not limited to, the murder of Freddie King. Chase admitted that he was a member of Hillside, a drug trafficking organization that operated for 14 years in the Cherry Hill section of Baltimore.

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board, Jr. of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Commissioner Kevin Davis of the Baltimore Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.

According to his plea agreement, from at least 2002, a group known as Hillside distributed powder and crack cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, and marijuana, primarily at the Cherry Hill Shopping Center and other locations throughout Cherry Hill. Members of Hillside used the proceeds of their narcotics sales to purchase firearms, to enrich themselves, and to further the activities of the organization. Hillside members used residences in and around Cherry Hill to cut and package drugs for distribution. Only trusted members of Hillside, such as Chase, were admitted to these locations while the drugs were being prepared for sale. In an effort to distinguish their narcotics, Chase and other Hillside members used colored topped vials or colored the drugs with food coloring.

Chase admitted that they distributed heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and other narcotics.

During Chase’s involvement in the Hillside drug conspiracy, it was reasonably foreseeable to him that the conspiracy involved between one and three kilograms of heroin, between 280 and 840 grams of crack cocaine, between five and 15 kilograms of powder cocaine, as well as marijuana and oxycodone.

Members of Hillside, including Chase, also committed acts of violence in order to fund their narcotics activities and intimidate others who would interfere with their narcotics trafficking. For example, on September 8, 2012, Chase, and other members of Hillside shot and killed Freddie King.

Since 2013, federal prosecutors have convicted at least 35 members of three other rival drug-dealing organizations that operated in Cherry Hill: “Up da Hill,” “Little Spelman,” and “Coppin Court.”

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning praised the ATF, Baltimore Police Department, and Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and thanked the FBI, Baltimore County Police Department, Anne Arundel County Police Department, and Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office for their assistance. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Seema Mittal and Patricia C. McLane, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

Johnson City Resident Sentenced to Serve 150 Months in Prison for Firearm and Drug Charges

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On October 11, 2017, Christopher Horton, a.k.a. “Slim,” 30, of Johnson City, Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 150 months in federal prison for possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base “crack,” possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Upon his release from prison, he will be supervised by U.S. Probation for five years. There is no parole in the federal system.

In June 2017, a jury convicted Horton of these charges, which arose from his early morning arrest by Johnson City Police Officers, on January 4, 2015, near the WJHL office on State of Franklin Street. Horton brandished a firearm outside the Old South bar, which resulted in a brief pursuit by officers. During the pursuit, an officer saw him duck down beside a car in a parking lot. After his arrest, a firearm and quantity of crack cocaine were found under the vehicle where he was earlier seen. Officers recognized that fibers on the firearm appeared similar to that of a torn pocket on Horton’s jacket. Forensics experts from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation found that the fibers on the firearm did match the type of fibers in Horton’s jacket. Additionally, DNA matching Horton was also found on the firearm.

Agencies involved in this investigation included the Johnson City Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. J. Gregory Bowman, Assistant U.S. Attorney represented the United States.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive national strategy that creates local partnerships with law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce existing gun laws. It provides more options to prosecutors, allowing them to utilize local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crime face tough sentences. PSN gives each federal district the flexibility it needs to focus on individual challenges that a specific community faces.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Former Deputy Jailer at Kentucky River Regional Jail Sentenced to 108 Months in Prison for Assault of Inmate and Obstruction of Justice

A former supervisory deputy jailer at the Kentucky River Regional Jail has been sentenced to 108 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release related to his role in an unprovoked violent assault of a detainee who was being held at the jail, and for subsequently covering up the beating.                                          

Yesterday, United States District Judge Karen K. Caldwell formally sentenced Kevin Eugene Asher, 32, on his conviction.  Under federal law, Asher must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence.  Following the completion of his prison term, he will be under the supervision of the United States Probation Office for the London, KY office of the Eastern District of Kentucky.

On April 12, 2017, a jury convicted 32-year-old Kevin Asher of deprivation of civil rights under color of law, and obstruction of justice. 

According to evidence and testimony presented during the jury trial, in November 2012, Asher and another deputy jailer, Damon Wayne Hickman, physically assaulted Gary Hill, a 55-year-old inmate who was being held following an arrest for a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. 

According to testimony, Deputies Asher and Hickman approached Hill after Hill had run the faucet in his jail cell to the point where water had spilled out onto the floor.  Hickman testified at trial that he punched Hill in the face, causing Hill to fall onto the floor.  Hickman further testified that while Hill was curled up in a fetal position, he and Asher began kicking Hill.  Asher and Hickman then immobilized Hill in a restraint chair and Hickman continued to beat him.  Evidence established that following the brutal assault, the deputies failed to obtain any medical treatment for Hill who had received numerous injuries. 

The jury also found that Asher obstructed justice by filling out an incident report at the jail in which he falsely claimed that Hill had slipped and fallen onto the floor and that no physical force had been used against him.

The Kentucky River Regional Jail houses pre-trial detainees from Perry and Knott Counties.  As a supervisory deputy jailer, Asher was responsible for the custody, care, safety and control of the inmates at the jail.

Carlton S. Shier, IV, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; John M. Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division; and Amy Hess, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, jointly made today’s announcement.

“Nothing justifies or excuses the defendant’s outrageous conduct in this case,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore.  “When deputy jailers make the corrupt choice to violate our Constitution and laws, the Justice Department will prosecute such misconduct, just as it did here.”

“This type of criminal conduct not only causes real injuries to victims, but tarnishes the work of truly dedicated law enforcement personnel,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Carlton Shier.  “Prosecuting this type of disgraceful conduct is critical to making our communities safer.  We simply must hold officials accountable for violations of the public trust that was placed in them.”

“Law enforcement officers are given tremendous power to enforce the law and ensure justice. Preventing abuse of this authority is necessary to protect the rights of our citizens and maintain confidence in law enforcement,” said Amy Hess, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Louisville Office. “Mr. Asher’s sentence shows that the FBI will aggressively investigate color of law and civil rights violations, to hold those with the responsibility for upholding the law accountable to it.”

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Kentucky State Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins of the United States Attorney’s Office and Trial Attorney Sanjay Patel of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted this case on behalf of the federal government.