Sentencing held in federal court

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LEXINGTON – A Magoffin County man was sentenced in a federal drug case on Tuesday, though the judgment and sentencing order has not been released by the judge at this time.

Gregory Howard, 45, of Salyersville, was arrested in March after a reported federal drug bust, with his probation officer petitioning the court to revoke his probation, citing four violations described as “commission of a crime – distribution of oxycodone.” The petition was granted by the court and a warrant of arrest was issued on the same day.

On May 25 a federal grand jury released an indictment, charging Howard with five counts alleging he distributed quantities of oxycodone and possessed hydrocodone with the intent to distribute on various days in February and March.

In August, via a plea agreement, Howard pleaded guilty to Count 5 of the indictment, a charge of possession with intent to distribute a quantity of pills containing hydrocodone.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. stated in the plea agreement that at sentencing the U.S. will ask the court to dismiss the other four counts. He stated that the government could prove law enforcement, using a confidential informant, made controlled purchases of eight oxycodone pills from Howard at his grocery/convenience store in Magoffin County on February 7, 14, 17 and 22, 2017. He said they could also prove that on March 3 law enforcement executed a search warrant at the store and seized several hundred pills, including 442 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, as well as unspecified quantities of Xanax and Neurontin. 

Duncan states that Howard confessed during a Mirandized interview to distributing prescription pills. He also said Howard agrees to forfeit $14,000, a sum representing the gross proceeds obtained by Howard from the alleged drug sales.

The statutory punishment for his charge is imprisonment for not more than 30 years, a fine of not more than $2 million, and a term of supervised release of not less than 6 years. A mandatory special assessment of $100 applies. Given he was on probation for a prior felony drug conviction, he is also subject to enhanced statutory punishment, though the plea agreement stipulates that the U.S. will move at sentencing to decrease Howard’s offense level based on his timely notice of intent to plead guilty. 

Per the plea agreement, the U.S. considers Howard an offense level 25 on the sentencing table set by the United States Sentencing Commission, which would generally mean 57 to 71 months imprisonment for an offender with up to one past conviction. 

Duncan noted in the plea agreement that no agreement exists about Howard’s criminal history category. By accepting the agreement, he waives his right to appeal.

On Tuesday in federal court, regarding the 2013 case he was on probation for, he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment (to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in the 2017 federal drug case) and three years supervised release. At press time, the sentencing details have not been released for the current case. At press time, he is currently being held at the Grayson County Jail.

Editor's Note: The indictment or charge of a person by a grand jury or otherwise is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.