Federal drug trial defendants down to three after pleas

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Three more defendants pleaded guilty last week in a federal drug case that began with indictment of 26.
That leaves three – L.C. Ewing of Tupelo, and Minthu Hoang Pham and Lorde Byron Olliver, no addresses listed – for trial that began Monday with other pleadings and the start of jury selection before U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock.
The 2010 indictment alleged a scheme to sell illegal drugs in north Mississippi.
Friday, defendant Mario Ladell McClinton pleaded guilty to one count that he conspired to possess and distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, which is more than 220 pounds.
He faces five to 40 years in prison and up to a $5 million fine.
Two co-defendants, Lonzo Lezell Griffin of Cypress, Texas, and Airen Paige Williams, no address listed, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to possess and distribute powder cocaine.
Punishment for that conviction is 10 years to life in prison and up to $10 million in fines.
Griffin also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct financial transactions involving proceeds from his unlawful activity.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and whichever is greater – a $500,000 fine or twice the value of what’s involved in the transaction.
No one will be sentenced until the U.S. Probation Service completes a report on each person to guide Aycock’s decisions about sentencing.
Another co-defendant, Valerie Rooney of Texas, failed to appear Aug. 2 for a change of plea hearing, and her attorney took responsibility for what happened.
Aycock fined the attorney the cost of bringing her to Oxford: $4,273.55.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com