, Corbin, KY

Local News

December 21, 2012

Fritts handed 15-year sentence

Convicted drug dealer associated with former sheriff Lawrence Hodge

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

“You didn’t say ‘no.’”

That’s what U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove told Doyle “Stan Boy” Fritts Thursday, who was found guilty in February of several charges related to a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone with his brothers.

The two brothers, Jerry Lee Fritts and Charles F. Fritts, Jr., along with Doyle Fritts, were among six people who faced federal charges in connection with a drug operation housed in a residence on Ted Ball Road. Former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge frequented that home to sell and buy drugs, and it is where Charles Fritts and another co-conspirator, Jason Kersey, helped Hodge dispose of guns stolen during a burglary staged by Hodge.

On Thursday, Van Tatenhove handed down a 15-year sentence to Doyle Fritts in federal court in London.

Upon release, Fritts, 48, will receive three years supervised probation.

Fritts’ defense attorney, Eric Edwards, did make three objections in an effort to get a lesser sentence, but it did not help.

His first objection concerned the way illicit drugs are measured, by “translating everything into marijuana.”

“It’s historically the common denominator when you’re comparing drug quantities,” Edwards said. “(But) it’s not the methodology, but the source of the numbers is what’s at issue.”

He explained that his client was “not caught with 600 pills, as calculated” but actually only was caught with 18.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Dotson said some testimony given during trial “was so unreliable that you can’t accurately determine” the true pill count.

He said it is based on the average of the state, but that “at the end of the day, (there were) 600 pills over a 22-month period.”

“Certainly trial testimony (shows) he assisted his brother (Charles Fritts) in drug distribution,” Dotson continued. “Look at his own drug habit.”

He then cited Fritts’ addiction to Oxycodone, stating Fritts took four to five 30 milligram pills of the drug a day. Dotson also said Fritts regularly used other drugs, including LSD, Xanax, mescaline, mushrooms and peyote.

“This was a favorable calculation for the defendant,” Dotson said, adding Fritts had bought 18 pills in controlled buys in just a few weeks.

Van Tatenhove said an accurate pill count is hard to determine. “It is rare to know with absolute certainty what the drug count is,” he said.

“(This) argument is a fair one,” the judge continued. “(But with) testimony it could have been a lot higher.”

And then he overruled the first objection.

Objection number two concerned Fritts’ intimidation of witnesses through the telephone. “The court has to make certain (of the) facts when looking at that (intimidation),” said Edwards, explaining it was necessary to be sure there actually was any intimidation. “(We) don’t contest calls were made.”

He explained that content heard during the calls was “taken out of context,” he said. “I don’t even think it went that far.”

Dotson disagreed, reminding the court that Fritts told one witness “he would beat the brakes off him.”

“Fritts perjured himself during trial,” he continued. “Just about everything that came out of the defendant’s mouth was a falsehood.”

Based on the wording of the law, Van Tatenhove then overruled the second objection.

The third objection surrounded the charge of possessing a firearm during a drug exchange. “There’s no evidence (to support) that he (Fritts) possessed (the gun) during the drug offense,” Edwards said. “Whether he possessed it is not the issue.”

He said the issue was proving the gun was part of the drug offense.

Dotson argued against it. “(Fritts’) brother and co-conspirator got the gun for pills during the time frame of the conspiracy,” he said.

It was learned through the course of the trial the gun in question was from the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department’s arsenal, and it had been used by former sheriff Lawrence Hodge to purchase illicit drugs.

Dotson said Fritts knew that fact. “Fritts admits he knew the (tactical rifle) came from the sheriff,” he said. “(He) knew it was a police-issued firearm.”

He added the gun was “proceeds obtained” from selling pills. “It’s clear from the evidence it is,” he said.

Van Tatenhove agreed, denying the third and final objection of the day.

Dotson offered arguments for the “high end” amount of incarceration, 175 months. “His criminal history is understated,” Dotson said. “Certainly he is a career criminal — he’s been in front of court time and time again.

“(But) despite numerous times in front of court, nothing to date has worked,” he continued.

He asked that Fritts earn his GED, receive drug treatment, five years of supervised release and a continued substance abuse treatment program after his release.

Edwards said he “was going to argue for the low end” of prison time, approximately 140 months. He agreed with the GED and drug treatment requirements, but thought Fritts only needed three years supervised release.

During an opportunity to speak to the court, Fritts apologized to the U.S. government for putting them through this. “I’m in this court room because of officials,” he said. “(They) got me caught up in this.

“I’m sorry for what I done.”

But the judge was unwavering. “There’s an extensive criminal history,” Van Tatenhove said, agreeing with Dotson that Fritts’ record doesn’t cover everything.

“The seriousness of the offense — I can’t overstate it,” the judge said to Fritts. “People are dying because of the criminal conduct you’re involved in.”

He said the problem is far-reaching. “(There’s) any number of people ensnared in this…it’s the personal cost of addiction,” Van Tatenhove said. “I have to hold you accountable for making these bad decisions.”

The judge made reference to former sheriff’s Hodge’s involvement in the case, and said “there’s lots of corruption in that county,” he said to Fritts. “You were able to see the pattern.”

“(But) you didn’t say ‘no’ and you benefitted from it,” he continued. “I’m holding you accountable for not being able to say ‘no’ to that.”

He added that nothing in Fritts’ criminal history suggests he would not engage in the same activity again. “Everything I see (has you) returning to this pattern time and time again,” Van Tatenhove said.

With that, Van Tatenhove exceeded the “high end” amount recommended by Dotson and sentenced Fritts to 180 months in prison, or 15 years.

He will then receive three years supervised release.

It was unknown whether Fritts will appeal. He was returned to the Laurel County Detention Center. Hodge, convicted of money laundering, extortion and drug distribution, was sentenced to 15 years and six months, just slightly higher than Fritts. He currently serves his time in Elkton Federal Prison in Ohio.

Text Only
Local News
  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 24, 2014

    Swiss officer spends time with Laurel Co. deputies

    Robinson new London Tourism director

    Restaurant tax problems being corrected

    Line-item resolution passed by Knox Court

    July 24, 2014

  • Couple pleads not guilty to abuse

    A Knox County couple facing charges in connection with second-degree burns on a child’s leg pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning during their preliminary hearings.
    Tyrone L. Person, 22, of Corbin, and Sierra Shepherd, 21, of Flat Lick, appeared before Judge John Chappell in Knox County District Court, according to a court official.

    July 23, 2014

  • Evaluation of Williamsburg Superintendent postponed

    An executive session to discuss and evaluate Williamsburg Independent Schools Superintendent Denny Byrd was slated for Tuesday night’s regular meeting — but an absence of one member postponed those plans.

    July 23, 2014

  • 0723 Capt. Coy Wilson, Harrison Creech & mom Samantha FOR WEB.jpg Heroes For A Day

    This boy likes to touch a truck — or in this case, the Corbin Police Department’s K9 Vehicle that was one of over 20 trucks, cars, boats, a helicopter and other vehicles stationed Tuesday at Corbin’s Rotary Park for the Sixth Annual “Touch A Truck” event.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIBROC: Just Lose It finalists announced

    The 20 finalists who will move on to the 4th Annual NIBROC: Just Lose It weight loss competition have been announced.

    July 23, 2014

  • NIBROC releases Kids Activities schedule

    We’re just over two weeks away from the 62nd Annual NIBROC Festival, and now, the schedule of kids activities for the fest is set in stone.

    July 23, 2014

  • Tri-County water treatment plants exceed quality standards

    Thirsty? If so, the Tri-County has some good water to offer to quench that thirst — that’s according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, which announced that 61 drinking water treatment plants across the state consistently produced drinking water last year that exceeded state and federal water quality standards.

    July 23, 2014

  • Corbin woman appointed to Ky. Board of Education

    A former Corbin Board of Education member has been appointed to the Kentucky Board of Education.

    July 23, 2014

  • POLICE ROUNDUP: Man admits to having sex with minor

    London City Police arrested a man Monday for having sexual relations with a minor, according to London City Police Chief Derek House.

    July 23, 2014

  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 23, 2014

    Couple pleads not guilty to abuse

    W’burg Supt. evaluation postponed

    NIBROC: Just Lose It finalists announced

    NIBROC releases Kids Activities schedule

    Corbin woman appointed to Ky. Board of Education

    Tri-County water treatment plants exceed quality standards

    Man admits to having sex with minor

    July 23, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter