TheTimesTribune.com, 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.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 18 arrested in drug roundup

    An 11-month long investigation into illegal drug activity resulted in 18 arrests Tuesday, according to Kentucky State Police Trooper Lloyd Cochran.

    July 30, 2014

  • Suspect wanted for assault

    Whitley County Sheriff’s deputies continue their search for a suspect wanted for first-degree assault after he allegedly intentionally struck a woman with his vehicle while she was walking Tuesday — and then simply drove away.

    July 30, 2014

  • Laurel service station robbed

    A Laurel County service station was robbed Tuesday and a station employee is the suspected robber, according to Laurel County Sheriff John Root.

    July 30, 2014

  • Arrest warrant issued for 1 of 2 charged in I-75 multi-vehicle crashes

    An arrest warrant has been issued for one of two defendants charged in several 2012 multi-vehicle crashes on I-75, which caused multiple injuries.

    July 30, 2014

  • Corbin Board of Education approves improvement plan for St. Camillus site

    A big step was taken Tuesday by the Corbin Board of Education, in purchasing property and making improvements to the former Saint Camillus Academy site.

    July 30, 2014

  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 30, 2014

    18 arrested in drug roundup

    Suspect wanted for assault

    Laurel service station robbed

    Arrest warrant issued for 1 of 2 charged in I-75 multi-vehicle crashes

    Corbin Board of Education approves improvement plan for St. Camillus site
     

    July 30, 2014

  • I-75 lane closures Wednesday

    A reminder if you’ll be traveling on I-75 in Laurel County Wednesday — the state Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) plans to restrict northbound and southbound traffic to one lane just north of exit 29.

    July 30, 2014

  • 0729 John Waite for web.jpg John Waite to perform at NIBROC

    Grammy nominated singer John Waite has joined the 2014 NIBROC musical lineup.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0729 gray crash for web.jpg U.S. 25E intersection site of Monday crash

    A woman was transported to Baptist Health Corbin Monday following a crash at the U.S. 25E and KY-233 intersection, according to Kentucky State Police Post 10 Public Information Officer Shane Jacobs.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Laurel School nurses to stay

    The Laurel County School System will keep its school nurses for the 2014-2015 school year.

    July 29, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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