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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Martin sentence
A Cocke County man who was among the leaders of a major methamphetamine conspiracy, Wednesday was given a 260 month federal prison sentence. Thomas (Dax) Martin, Jr, 48, Old Cave Church Road, Newport had earlier entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and money laundering. The indictment charged 20 individuals in a drug distribution and firearms conspiracy centered in Cocke County, from July 2015 through February 2018. Asst. US Attorney J. Christian Lampe said Martin was cooperative with investigators following his arrest in 2017, providing investigators with significant information regarding the conspiracy, but he also continued to use and distribute methamphetamine while serving as an informant. "He was running amuck and refused to stop selling which was frustrating to the agent and me," Lampe told Judge Ronnie Greer. The federal guidelines recommended a sentence of 322 to 425 months, but Lampe recommended a "downward departure" because of the defendant's significant assistance in the investigation. But Lampe told the court that even 322 months is too long, saying he wanted to be fair in his recommendation even though he estimated that the defendant had conservatively distributed 4.5 kilos of the drug; "it was a staggering quantity". Prior to the sentencing, Martin told Judge Greer, "I take full responsibility; I made a horrible mistake. I did everything I could to feed my addiction." In response to a question from the court, the defendant said he used one-half to one gram of methamphetamine four times daily for a year prior to his arrest. "I was a menace to society, and did damage to the community," he said telling the court he carried a gun for his own protection. "It was a dog eat dog out there," he added. The court said he too believed the suggested sentence range was too high, "and amounts to a life sentence. But Judge Greer pointed out that Martin told investigators he was buying and distributing three pounds of methamphetamine two times a week for a year. During the sentencing, the court observed that most of the methamphetamine is coming into the US from south of the border, through legal checkpoints. "It could be controlled with alot less cost than even a few miles of a wall," he said. Later on Wednesday, Judge Greer also sentenced Pamela Puckett, aka MOM, 38, Buford, Georgia. another key player in the conspiracy. She was given a sentence of 210 months.

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