An inmate used a smuggled cell phone to conduct drug deals while behind bars at a Georgia prison, prosecutors alleged.
U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross sentenced Kevin Bristol Patterson to more than 18 years in federal prison for his alleged role in distributing methamphetamine and heroin while he was incarcerated at Ware State Prison in Waycross, Ga.
The U.S. Attorney’s Officer released more than 100 calls Wednesday they said show Patterson and at least two others making plans to buy and sell drugs.
Prosecutors said that Patterson introduced a would-be drug buyer to Denis Miguel Pineda, a known drug trafficker. Patterson expected the buyer to give him $500 each time he bought drugs from the dealer. That would-be buyer was actually working for police. In the recorded calls, Patterson, the buyer and the suspected drug dealer discussed the price of the drugs, and the time and place of the sales.
Another inmate, Alex Mauricio Altamirano, supplied the link between Patterson and Pineda, prosecutors alleged.
In all, authorities said Pineda sold 649.9 grams of meth and 334 grams of heroin in five separate transactions to
the buyer from July 2014 through October 2015. Police seized the drugs between they reached the street.
The state argued that Patterson was a career criminal with 14 previous felony convictions, and asked that he be sentenced to 365 more months in prison.
Defense attorney Jay Strongwater argued his client's criminal background showed that he is an addict and the non-violent crimes he committed were a result of that. He also argued that Patterson was the middle man and did not actually buy or sell the drugs, saying he only introduced the other two parties to each other.
“The phone calls were initiated by the informant so they were very targeted,” Strongwater said. “The informant wanted to make sure that he got inculpatory statements from Mr. Patterson so that it could be used against him later on.”
Strongwater wouldn't say how Patterson got the cell phone behind bars but stated they are prevalent throughout the prison system
Patterson's attorney says he will likely serve 85 percent of the 18-year sentence. Those added years will run concurrent with his current sentence.
Pineda was sentenced to 12 years, seven months of prison, followed by five years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty.
Altamirano, 26, of Norcross, Ga., was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the conspiracy charge.