Woman pleads guilty in Em­po­ria drug con­spir­acy case; could face life sen­tence

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - RTDWEATHER DESK - BY FRANK GREEN fgreen@times­dis­patch.com (804) 649-6340

A woman charged in an Em­po­ria-based drug ring pleaded guilty Thurs­day to a con­spir­acy to sell co­caine and crack co­caine.

Tracy Michelle Moody, 53, faces a min­i­mum of 10 years in prison and a max­i­mum of life when sen­tenced Dec. 14 by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne. She had been free on elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing but U.S. Mag­is­trate judge Rod­er­ick Young or­dered her locked up Thurs­day in light of her plea.

A sec­ond de­fen­dant, Brit­tany Lachelle Owens, 28, is sched­uled to plead guilty on Mon­day.

Moody is one of eight peo­ple charged in a June 21 in­dict­ment that al­leges the con­spir­acy be­gan in Jan­uary 2013 and that var­i­ous de­fen­dants played var­i­ous roles in­clud­ing or­ga­nizer, man­ager, dis­trib­u­tor, pack­ager, sup­plier and “fa­cil­i­ta­tor.”

The de­fen­dants al­legedly dis­trib­uted more than 5 kilo­grams (11 pounds) of co­caine; more than 280 grams of crack co­caine; and un­spec­i­fied amounts of heroin and mar­i­juana. All the re­main­ing de­fen­dants, ex­cept one who re­mains a fugi­tive, have pleaded not guilty.

In plead­ing guilty, Moody ad­mit­ted she par­tic­i­pated in the con­spir­acy from De­cem­ber 2014 to this June, among other things al­low­ing her home to be used to store drugs.

On at least one oc­ca­sion in 2015, law en­force­ment bought 12 grams of crack co­caine from her. On June 6, she ac­com­pa­nied another de­fen­dant to a meet­ing in which they bought a kilo­gram of co­caine.

Moody ad­mit­ted that the next day, June 7, she was stopped by law en­force­ment in pos­ses­sion of 84 grams of co­caine that she was tak­ing to the Tide­wa­ter area for dis­tri­bu­tion.

Last month Payne cer­ti­fied the case as “com­plex” un­der the speedy trial act, grant­ing the gov­ern­ment’s re­quest for more time to pre­pare for trail.

In ask­ing for more time, Peter S. Duf­fey, an as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney, said the case in­volved mul­ti­ple de­fen­dants and ju­ris­dic­tions in­clud­ing North Carolina. He cited wire­taps on 10 cell phones and more than 130 days of recorded in­ter­cepts in­clud­ing more than 4,000 “per­ti­nent in­ter­cepted calls.”

“In ad­di­tion, the ev­i­dence will also in­clude video and au­dio tape from two (sur­veil­lance) cam­eras, of which thou­sands of still pho­to­graphs were ex­tracted,” wrote Duf­fey. He said the gov­ern­ment planned to call 20 to 30 wit­nesses.

The other de­fen­dants, like Moody and Owens from the Em­po­ria area, are: Deron Radar­ius Powell, 32, Crys­tal Lynette Man­grum , 28, Dex­ter Oneil Banks, 29, Steven Allen Hicks, 42, Ron­nie Rawles, 38, and Vin­cent De­mond An­der­son, 41. Banks has not been ar­rested yet and re­mains a fugi­tive.

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