The first defendant to plead guilty in one of two alleged conspiracies involving close to three dozen defendants and 300 grams or more of cocaine has received a 10-year prison sentence, according to court records.
Marvel Lynette Carpenter, 45, of Oak Ridge, pleaded guilty to 10 drug-related charges in Anderson County Criminal Court on Friday, November 18.
Carpenter had been indicted May 3 in an alleged 24-person conspiracy. There was also an alleged 11-person conspiracy. A roundup of the cocaine conspiracy suspects started Thursday, May 5, as several law enforcement agencies swept through Oak Ridge and possibly other communities in what authorities described as a complex, multi-county criminal investigation. Authorities said parts of the investigation were unprecedented.
Carpenter had been charged with conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and sell 300 grams or more of cocaine—and conspiring to possess with the intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell 300 grams or more of cocaine. Those were Class A felony charges.
She pleaded guilty to reduced charges of attempting to conspire to manufacture, distribute, and sell—and possessing with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or sell—300 grams or more of cocaine. Those are Class B felony charges.
Carpenter received a 10-year sentence on each of the attempted conspiracy charges, the court records said. The sentences will be served concurrently, or at the same time, rather than consecutively.
As a standard offender, her release eligibility was set at 30 percent.
Carpenter, who lives on East Bryn Mawr Circle near Linden Elementary School, was also facing four additional charges related to drugs in a school zone. The original charges were conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and sell—and possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or sell—more than 0.5 grams of cocaine in a school zone.
Those charges have been amended to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, or sell—or possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or sell—more than 0.5 grams of cocaine. The new charges have been reduced to Class C felonies. The school zone aspect of the charges is no longer included.
Carpenter received three-year sentences on each of those four amended charges, to be served at the same time as her four concurrent 10-year sentences, the court records said.
The guilty pleas allow Carpenter to avoid a trial, where the penalties could be more severe but where she would have to be convicted by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
Carpenter will receive credit for the time she served from when she was arrested on May 5 to when she pleaded guilty on November 18.
Carpenter also received two concurrent sentences of 11 months and 29 days on two misdemeanor charges of possessing cocaine in May 2015.
Fines and court costs have been also assessed against Carpenter. A fine of $2,000 has been listed in a sentencing document for each of the eight conspiracy and attempted conspiracy charges, and a $750 fine has been ordered for the two misdemeanor cocaine possession charges.
The grand jury indictments on May 3 included a total of 119 charges against 35 people in the two separate conspiracies, which allegedly occurred between May 14 and December 23, 2015. The charges were mostly conspiracy charges.
A roundup of the cocaine conspiracy suspects started Thursday, May 5. Most of those arrested the first two days live in Oak Ridge, but eight had addresses listed in Clinton, Kingston, Knoxville, and Madisonville. The defendants ranged in age from 20-61.
Some of the defendants are also facing more drug-related charges.
The conspiracy charges involving 300 grams or more of cocaine are Class A felonies, the most serious in Tennessee with the exception of capital murder. A first-time offender can receive a 15- to 25-year prison sentence on a Class A felony.
If convicted on a school zone violation, a defendant will have to serve 100 percent of his or her sentence. A school zone is an area within 1,000 feet of a school, child care agency, public library, recreational center, or park.
The defendants started making court appearances in arraignments on May 27.
Most of the arrests the first few days of the drug roundup appeared to be by the Seventh Judicial District (Anderson County) Crime Task Force. Other agencies that helped the CTF in the first few days included the Oak Ridge Police Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Clinton Police Department, and Seventh Judicial District Attorney General’s Office.
It was the largest drug conspiracy announced in Anderson County since March 2013, when authorities announced, in an unprecedented case, that 42 people, including many Anderson County residents, had been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges they conspired to make 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
A little more than a year later, federal officials announced the arrests and indictments of 59 people in an alleged conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine using pseudoephedrine in Anderson and Campbell counties, after an investigation by more than a dozen agencies.
See previous stories on the alleged cocaine conspiracies, including the alleged 24-person conspiracy, here.
See previous stories on the alleged methamphetamine conspiracies here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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