A jury convicted "worst of the worst" offender Jerry Alexander of being a part of a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine — but said his involvement was just a fraction of what the government argued during his trial.
On Tuesday, jurors in federal court convicted 48-year-old Alexander of being a part of a conspiracy to distribute less than 28 grams of crack, far less than the 280 grams of crack cocaine and more than 5 kilograms of powder cocaine the federal government said he conspired to distribute.
Sentencing for Alexander is set for Jan. 11, when he will face anywhere from 0 to 30 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Alexander was charged in November 2013, along with 31 other men, in a drug conspiracy case that was the result of a four-year federal investigation. The men were all labeled by officials as the city's "worst of the worst" drug criminals. A majority were indicted separately and have taken plea deals or pleaded guilty in court.
Alexander is the first and possibly only defendant on the indictment of eight men to go to trial. Tuesday's conviction was not his first. He has 30 previous convictions in Hamilton County, ranging from theft to attempted first-degree murder.
Alexander's attorney, Clayton Whittaker, argued that evidence presented in court only proved that Alexander was a drug user — not a part of a larger conspiracy. Whittaker said his client simply sold small amounts of crack to feed his addiction. He reminded the jury that they were tasked with determining not if Alexander used drugs, but if he was part of a large plan to distribute drugs.
"You can't put people in jail for doing something immoral," Whittaker said. "You do it for breaking the law."
Whittaker pointed to testimony from Alexander's co-conspirator LaJeromeny Brown, who said during the trial that he sold drugs to Alexander to feed his addiction. Brown, a longtime friend of Alexander's, said he didn't think Alexander was selling.
"If (Alexander) was involved in this conspiracy, where is the evidence?" Whittaker asked the jury. " Why didn't you see a big bag of crack in this case?"
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poole presented the jury with testimony during the trial of two controlled buys that took place from Alexander. Witnesses also testified about the drug paraphernalia and small amount of crack that was retrieved from Alexander's residence during a federal search.
Poole pointed to wiretaps, controlled buys and Brown's testimony that he left his drug stash with Alexander when he went out of town to support Alexander's role in the conspiracy.
"There is no question there is a conspiracy," Poole told the jury. " If he was in for a penny he was in for a pound."
Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at email@example.com or 423-757-6592.