Friday, 21 November 2008

Vonnie Williams, 44, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. His co-defendant Aaron Washington, 42, was sentenced to 15 years.

Vonnie Williams, 44, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. His co-defendant Aaron Washington, 42, was sentenced to 15 years. The pair were facing a maximum penalty of 99 years in prison. Juneau drug dealers received hefty prison sentences Thursday for operating a cocaine smuggling and dealing ring. Both were convicted last month of running a multiyear drug-smuggling and drug-dealing operation that used several people, oftentimes women who had been lovers with at least one of the pair, to smuggle in cocaine on commercial flights to Juneau. The estimated street value the pair smuggled in or dealt from 2003 to 2007 was nearly $1.7 million, according to Juneau District Attorney Doug Gardner. Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins said the different sentences were a reflection, in part, of Williams' "terrible" criminal record and Washington's better prospects of being rehabilitated. During the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Gardner said that Williams had exhausted his chances to change his ways and had to be locked up for a long time to protect the community from the havoc Williams created with his actions and the drugs he sold. "He is just not going to rehabilitate," Gardner said, adding that a longer sentence similar to those handed out for more violent crimes such as murder and kidnapping was appropriate. "It's hard to conceive of another crime when the human wreckage piles up as high as it has in this particular case." Williams, speaking for the first time in court since his trial began, said that he was a drug addict who was being set up to take the fall for a whole group of drug users, many of whom he said testified against him at his trial. "I'm going to take full responsibility for what I did. I will be sentenced for what I did," Williams said. "I don't want to be sentenced for what everybody else did." By contrast, Washington used his time to speak in court to apologize to the community for his actions. "It was immoral, unethical and out of character," said Washington, who also spoke for the first time in court since the trial began. Washington said he deserved to be punished, but asked for leniency, citing the fact that he'd already had to miss the birth of a grandchild and spending time with his dying mother because of the charges. "I suffered," Washington said, while choking up. "I just need an opportunity to correct what I did wrong. I just need an opportunity." Collins said she believed that Washington, who had no significant criminal record prior to this year, had shown remorse and had a "good" chance of being rehabilitated, if he stayed away from drugs. But she said Williams had only the slimmest of chances of being rehabilitated. Collins said she was troubled that the statements made in court by Williams didn't recognize the scope of his crime and the number of people who were likely affected by his actions. "When we talk about these kinds of quantities, it's hard to imagine that (the drugs weren't) finding their way, somehow, to (children)," Collins said. Williams also was sentenced Thursday for his role in the theft of checks from Taku Smokeries last year. And Washington was sentenced for another drug dealing crime that he was found guilty of earlier this year. The additional sentencing had no effect on total prison time. Both Washington's and Williams' sentences could be reduced if certain requirements, such as behaving in prison, are met. According to Collins, Williams could be released in 20 years; Washington could be free in seven and a half years. Lawyers for the pair said they will appeal the trial's verdict shortly. The lawyers said they were unable to present their full case to the jury because some of their witnesses weren't granted immunity from prosecution, while some of the state's witnesses were.



Related Posts with Thumbnails