4 Richmond County residents sentenced to federal prison on meth convictions

By William R. Toler - wtoler@civitasmedia.com





GREENSBORO — Four Richmond County residents will serve federal prison time for their involvement in making methamphetamine.

Barbara Charlene Martin, Michael Wayne Johnson Jr., David Branson Lear and Frankie Ray Taylor Jr. — who all pleaded guilty to charges on April 6 — were sentenced in federal court Wednesday, according to the office of Ripley Rand, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Martin and Johnosn, who both pleaded guilty to distributing pseudoephedrine “knowing or having reasonable cause to believe” the restricted cold medicine would be used to manufacture meth, were each sentenced to three years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, according to a statement from Rand’s office.

Lear and Taylor previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Taylor was sentenced to six years in prison, Lear was sentenced to eight years and one month.

All four defendants’ incarceration was ordered to be followed by three years of supervised release and they were each ordered to pay a special assessment of $100.

Martin, Johnson and Taylor also received one year of home detention to be served during their release.

Although none were issued fines, Lear and Taylor were ordered to pay restitution to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation of $493.49 and $225.35, respectively, for clean-up costs.

The cases were investigated by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, the Rockingham Police Department, and SBI and were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cliff Barrett.

More than 35 individuals have been indicted on federal meth charges in the past several years since the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation initiated a federal investigation with U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand’s office.

More than 20 people were convicted in federal court on charges stemming from Richmond County in 2015. Seven more were indicted earlier this month.

As of July 22, there had been a total of 239 meth lab seizures in North Carolina, according to the SBI.

Richmond County rounded out the top five with nine. Last year, the county had the third-highest number of lab seizures. Neighboring Anson County now holds that title.

Johnston County continues to lead the state with 21, followed by Wake County with 14. Onslow County has the fourth-highest with 11.

Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.





By William R. Toler


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