Members of alleged pill ring busted
Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 11:57 am
A Morristown man who allegedly directed an 11-member troupe of East Tennessee-to-Florida oxycodone smurfers learned Monday morning that all upcoming performances have been cancelled.
Gregory Allen Rhea, 37, and nine others were taken into custody in raids that began before dawn and placed into federal custody.
A woman who eluded arrest is now officially a federal fugitive, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Kerney-Quillen.
Rhea and his underlings allegedly are responsible for putting $1.2 million worth of oxycodone on the street, which translates into 40,000 30-milligram oxycodone pills, according to the indictment.
The federal prosecutor says the investigation was spearheaded by Morristown Police Department narcotics officers and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Rhea and his 11 alleged associates were named in an 18-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville late Monday morning, which indicates Rhea has potentially life-changing legal problems. The alleged kingpin faces charges of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone; maintaining a Hayter Drive residence for the purpose of distributing painkillers; attempted money laundering; possessing firearms during a drug-trafficking offense; and possession of firearms by a drug addict.
The others indicted for alleged oxycodone distribution are: Herald Glenn Horner, 35, and Tamara Michelle Miles, 44, Mooresburg; Joey Wayne Vanover, 35, and Kimberly Ann Vanover of Tazewell; Kera Lynn Green, 23, Whitesburg; Johnny Wayne Neeley, 38, Whitesburg; Kerry Glenn Nelson, 42, and Ricky Allen “Rooster” Seal, 46, Morristown; and Ricky Tim Collins, 47, Bean Station.
On Oct. 10, a federal grand jury also indicted Michael Guesford, 39, who was already incarcerated in the Hamblen County Jail, and Ashley Nicole Gray Patterson, a 28-year-old Morristown resident, on the identical charge.
Patterson aka Ashley Nicole Carpenter, remains at large.
What’s clear from the indictment is Rhea has been the target of law enforcement officials for a long time.
The indictment details specific dates beginning in late July 2011 on which he allegedly possessed oxycodone.
On March 27, 2011, law enforcement officials seized $68,100 Rhea was carrying at McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville, according to the indictment.
Kerney-Quillen declined to comment on the cash seizure, but the indictment alleges on that same day Rhea attempted to conduct a bulk cash transaction involving interstate and international commerce.
Rhea lost another $7,000 in cash and 22 firearms, including a fully automatic Norinco SKS rifle, when law enforcement officials raided his Hayter Drive residence on April 4, according to the indictment.
The indictment further alleges that Rhea maintained the residence since December 2003 for the purpose of distributing oxycodone.
Federal officials want to seize the home, which is registered to Linda Rhea and has an assessed value of $144,500, according to property records.
Defendants in the case began making their initial appearances on Monday, a formality that will continue over the next few days.
This morning, Horner waived his detention hearing, which means he will likely remain in jail until his case tracks through the federal court system.
-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer
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