Judge delays sentencing of drug trafficking ring leader

August 11, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LEXINGTON - Two of 25 people charged in a major drug trafficking ring appeared before U.S. District Judge Karl Forester for sentencing Friday.

Among them was the ringleader, former Mount Vernon police officer Larry Gene Thompson Sr., but Judge Forester delayed sentencing until Sept. 5 based on a motion filed by Thompson's attorney, Jerry Cox.

The motion for downward departure asks the court to withdraw from the sentencing guidelines if the defendant cooperates fully and provides assistance in the investigation or prosecution of others who have committed an offense.

Cox said his client has cooperated under the plea agreement reached by Cox and assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Walker. "The point of all this is so that he will serve less time," Cox said.


The original plea agreement would have resulted in Thompson serving 14 to 17 years. But Walker indicated there is some doubt that Thompson has fully cooperated throughout the process, and had he fully cooperated, he could have received a 10-year sentence.

Appearing with Thompson beside him, Cox defended his client regarding his reputation as police officer and cooperation since his arrest. He said there are several "redeeming features" in Thompson's favor, including helping resolve the cases of some of the others arrested in the drug trafficking ring. And he told Forester that Thompson was a good police officer.

"He single-handedly caught a murderer ... and helped convict murderers," said Cox.

Cox told Forester there was no mention of guns in the drug case and that Thompson had worked quickly to liquidate his assests, including selling horses and livestock.

"He's done everything he agreed to do in the plea," said Cox.

Cox said the only doubt in the plea agreement stemmed from a polygraph test that Thompson did not pass. But he said Thompson wasn't required to pass it. "He's been very forthcoming in everything except the polygraph," Cox told Forester.

Another defendant, Robert "Bobby" Durham of Stanford, received a five-year sentence Friday for each of the eight charges that will run concurrently.

Prior to the sentence, Forester asked Durham if he had anything to say about the crimes he committed.

"I'm sorry for all of this," Durham replied.

In addition to the prison term, Durham was ordered to participate in a drug education program and must submit to drug, substance abuse, and alcohol testing and treatment and abstain from using alcohol.

Following the sentence, Walker requested that all remaining counts be dismissed. Durham must report to prison Nov. 3.

A third defendant, Robert Hernandez, was scheduled to be sentenced Friday, but Walker said the hearing has been continued.

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