In U.S. v. Jones, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently took on the case of an oxycodone ring whose activities in Florida helped land one conspirator behind bars for nearly three years.
Tiffany Jones was indicted in North Carolina along with seven other people on a number of federal charges related to an alleged oxycodone ring operating in that state and in Florida. The charges included conspiracy with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute the drug. Evidence was introduced showing that Jones participated in and was present during trips to Florida to obtain oxycodone pills. She distributed the pills personally, according to federal prosecutors, and planned and discussed a North Carolina distribution scheme with co-conspirator Adam Jones.
Ms. Jones pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. On appeal, she argued that the amount of pills attributed to her by the district court was too high and that she should have been given a lesser sentence based on her “minimal” role in the oxycodone operation.
The Fourth Circuit disagreed. “We review the district court’s drug quantity finding for clear error,” the appellate court explained. “This deferential standard of review requires reversal only if this court, upon review of the record as a whole, is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed,” the court further noted, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Easley v. Cromartie.
Here, the court said co-conspirator Amber Babb testified to the number of pills involved in the operation. Meanwhile, other evidence included specific examples of Jones’s drug running activities and the quantity of pills involved. Because Jones was convicted on the conspiracy charge, the court further explained that all quantities of the pills reasonably foreseeable as being involved in the conspiracy could also be attributed to her. “It is well settled that, when determining the drug quantity to attribute to a defendant convicted of a drug conspiracy, the district court may attribute to the defendant the total amount of drugs involved in the conspiracy, provided the drug quantities were reasonably foreseeable to the defendant and are within the scope of the conspiratorial agreement,” the court observed, relying on its 1999 decision in U.S. v. Randall.
The Fourth Circuit also ruled that the evidence was sufficient to show that Jones played more than a minimal role in the distribution operation and was therefore not entitled to have her sentence reduced. Pointing to her involvement in controlled buys as well as so-called “doctor shopping” trips in Florida, the court found that Jones’s role was “material or essential” to the offenses for which she was convicted. As a result, the court affirmed her convictions and sentence.
If you are facing a prescription drug trafficking charge in Florida, it is essential to have an experienced, knowledgeable attorney who can effectively defend your rights. Representing families and individuals throughout the region, the South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are skilled negotiators and litigators who are dedicated to providing an aggressive legal defense for our clients.
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