Federal grand jury indicts 18 in East Tennessee meth distribution ring

FILE PHOTO: Bag of crystal methamphetamine (DEA/AP)

GREENEVILLE – A federal grand jury in Greeneville returned a 49-count indictment against 18 people for their role in the distribution of methamphetamine.

The indictment, on file with the U.S. District Court, alleges that each of these individuals was involved in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in East Tennessee and elsewhere. Curtis Carpenter, Jerry Robinette, Edward Smith, Phillip Burton, Tyler Delph and Clay Seals, jr. were also each charged with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

If convicted of the methamphetamine conspiracy charge, each faces a minimum mandatory prison term of at least 10 years and up to life, at least five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $10,000,000, any applicable forfeiture, and a $100 special assessment. The punishment for the firearm charges returned against Carpenter, Robinette, Smith, Burton, Tyler Delph, and Seals is a minimum mandatory term of at least five years and up to life in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed, up to five years supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and a $100 special assessment.

  • David Byron Jones, 60, of Chatsworth, Georgia
  • Jonathan Delph, 50, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Clay Seals, Jr., 50, of Surgoinsville, Tennessee
  • Stephanie Bailey, 49, of Hawkins County, Tennessee
  • Donna Strong, 53, a.k.a. Donna Dunbar, of Surgoinsville, Tennessee
  • Curtis Carpenter, 42, of Whitesburg, Tennessee
  • Jerry Robinette, 49, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Edward Smith, 51, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Tyler Delph, 24, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Scottie Delph, 48, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • James Michael Whitaker, 54, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Paul Bledsoe Jr., 43, of Morristown, Tennessee
  • William West, 57, a.k.a. Bump, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Frankie Benton, 33, of Hawkins County, Tennessee
  • James Dwayne Byington, 49, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Leonard Brad Eidson, 42, of Bull’s Gap, Tennessee
  • Phillip Burton, 48, a.k.a. Burger, of Rogersville, Tennessee
  • Toby Jones, 39, of Chatsworth, Georgia

The on-going investigation leading to the indictment was the product of a partnership between Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department, Third Judicial Drug Task Force, Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, Conasauga (Georgia) Safe Streets Task Force, U.S. Marshal Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Christian Lampe will represent the United States.

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