State Grand Jury indicts 54 defendants in “Prison Empire” case, alleging drug trafficking through contraband cell phones in prisons

(COLUMBIA, SC) – Nov. 8, 2019 – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today that the South Carolina State Grand Jury has issued a round of indictments in the drug trafficking case known as “Prison Empire.” The investigation alleges much of the drug trafficking was run and facilitated by current and former inmates though the use of contraband cell phones in South Carolina prisons, along with their confederates on the outside. Most of the drugs allegedly being trafficking in the case were methamphetamine, but there are also cocaine and marijuana charges in the case as well. Additionally, there are a number of firearms and weapons charges associated with the alleged drug trafficking, as well as burglary, kidnapping, and related charges from an incident allegedly ordered from prison because of nonpayment of a drug debt.

“The only way prison inmates are able to keep committing crimes on the outside is by using contraband cell phones,” Attorney General Wilson said. “They coordinate with people on the outside to get drugs and smuggle them into prisons. This market for contraband inside our prisons has contributed to gang power, gang rivalries, and gang violence within our prisons, and also contributes to violence on the outside by those who are involved.”

“An illegal cell phone is the most dangerous weapon in our prisons today,” said Bryan Stirling, director of the S.C. Department of Corrections. “We are grateful to all of our law enforcement partners and the state grand jury for helping bring these cases forward and highlighting the serious issue of cell phones in prisons.”

Unsealed on Wednesday were eleven indictments that collectively contain 121 counts, consisting of 194 charges against 54 defendants. Bond hearings for many of the defendants occurred on Wednesday, November 7, 2019, and Thursday, November 8, 2019, before the Honorable DeAndrea G. Benjamin at the Greenville County Courthouse. The charges in the unsealed “Prison Empire” indictments are as follows:

(1) Samantha Diane Chavez Aiken
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
iii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
iv. Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
v. Possession of a Stolen Handgun: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
vi. Failure to Stop for a Blue Light: 90 days-3 years or $500
vii. Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule IV Controlled Substance: 0-3 years and/or $0-$6,000
viii. Driving While License Suspended: 0-30 days and/or $300

(2) Steve Dewyatt Aiken, Jr.
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 100-200 grams: 25 years and $50,000

(3) Edward Gary Akridge (a/k/a “Eddie Boss”)
a. 2019-GS-47-17 (Edgefield County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Conspiracy: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
ii. Burglary, First Degree: 15 years-life
iii. Kidnapping (3 counts): 1-30 years
iv. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
v. Assault and Battery, First Degree: 1-10 years
b. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

(4) Joey Durant Atkins
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000

(5) Justin Kvalheim Babb
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
b. 2019-GS-47-15 (Anderson County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 100-200 grams (2 counts): 25 years and $50,000
ii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years

(6) Ryan Christopher Ballard
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
iii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (2 counts): 5 years
iv. Unlawful Possession of a Handgun by Person Convicted of a Crime of Violence: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
b. 2019-GS-47-40 (Anderson County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
ii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
iii. Unlawful Possession of a Handgun by Person Convicted of a Crime of Violence: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
iv. Possession of a Stolen Handgun: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000

(7) William Clinton Barkley
a. 2019-GS-47-19 (Anderson County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
ii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

(8) Joey Neal Bodie
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
b. 2019-GS-47-39 (Laurens County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000

(9) Steven Ray Boyd
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
iii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (3 counts): 5 years

(10) Jessica Addie Bradshaw
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Distribution of Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
iii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams (2 counts): 3-10 years and $25,000
iv. Possession of Marijuana: 0-30 days or $100-$200

(11) Matthew Jason Brown
a. 2019-GS-47-17 (Edgefield County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Conspiracy: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
ii. Burglary, First Degree: 15 years-life
iii. Kidnapping (3 counts): 1-30 years
iv. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
v. Assault and Battery, First Degree: 1-10 years

(12) Jennifer Nicole Burns
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
iii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

(13) Kurtis Russell Burns
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams (2 counts): 3-10 years and $25,000
iii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (4 counts): 5 years
iv. Driving While License Suspended: 0-30 days and/or $300
v. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams (4 counts): 7-25 years and $50,000
vi. Distribution of Controlled Substance within Proximity of School (2 counts): 0-1 year and/or $0-$1,000
vii. Distribution of Marijuana (2 counts): 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
viii. Possession of a Stolen Handgun (3 counts): 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
ix. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
x. Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000

(14) William David Burns
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(15) Warren Brent Chastain (a/k/a “Yo Gotti”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(16) Jacob Austin Collins
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
iii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

(17) Jesse Taylor Crooks (a/k/a “Roach”)
a. 2019-GS-47-20 (Greenville County)
i. Trafficking Cocaine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
b. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

(18) Tina Dent
a. 2019-GS-47-21 (Lexington County)
i. Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
ii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base (Crack): 0-15 years and/or $25,000

(19) Scott Allen Durham
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Distribution of Methamphetamine (3 counts): 0-15 years and/or $25,000
iii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000

(20) Stacey M. Edgerly
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(21) Kelli Denise Edwards
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
iii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years

(22) Christina Marie Epps
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(23) Kenneth Bryant Evans, II (a/k/a “Kuntry”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(24) McKayla Dawn Franks
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(25) Garrick Houston Fuller (a/k/a “Gary Wayne”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(26) Barbara Ann Goodman
a. 2019-GS-47-19 (Anderson County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
ii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
b. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Distribution of Methamphetamine (3 counts): 0-15 years and/or $25,000
iii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams (2 counts): 7-25 years and $50,000

(27) Robert Anthony Gracely (a/k/a “Tony G”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(28) Heather Michelle Hamilton (a/k/a “Yola”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000

(29) Sommer Leigh Johnson
a. 2019-GS-47-18 (Union County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000

(30) Casey Christian Kohler
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(31) Kristin Nicole Lesley
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 100-200 grams: 25 years and $50,000
iii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000

(32) Cassidy Shane Lewis
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(33) Candies Brooke Locke
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
iii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

(34) Jeffery Shane Mauldin
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(35) Darrell Foster McCoy, Jr. (a/k/a “DJ”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(36) Matthew David McCoy
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(37) Christopher Robert Nix
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
iii. Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule I-III Controlled Substance (Amphetamine): 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
iv. Possession of Marijuana: 0-30 days or $100-$200

(38) Brandi Nicole O’Bryant (a/k/a “Brandi Smith”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
iii. Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000

(39) Semeca Dannyelle Oglesby
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
iii. Receiving Stolen Goods (Value Less Than $2,000): 0-30 days and/or $0-$1,000
b. 2019-GS-47-40 (Anderson County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
ii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
iii. Failure to Stop for a Blue Light: 90 days-3 years or $500
iv. Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
v. Resisting Arrest with a Deadly Weapon: 6 months-10 years

(40) William Russell Oliver, II (a/k/a “Lil Pimpin”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000
iii. Possession of a Stolen Handgun (2 counts): 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
iv. Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
v. Possession of Contraband in County Jail: 1-10 years and/or $1,000-$10,000
vi. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
vii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
viii. Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance: 0-2 years and/or $0-$5,000

(41) Scott Damien Pope
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

(42) Jennifer Marie Pruitt
a. 2019-GS-47-16 (Lexington County)
i. Kidnapping: 0-30 years
b. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

(43) Ratravious Untwain Quattlebaum
a. 2019-GS-47-21 (Lexington County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
iii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine: 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000

(44) Jonathan Richard Rackley (a/k/a “Diesel”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000

(45) Charles Michael Ray (a/k/a “Chuck Ray”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000

(46) Nicanor Perez Rodriguez (a/k/a “Nico”)
a. 2019-GS-47-17 (Edgefield County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Conspiracy: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
ii. Burglary, First Degree: 15 years-life
iii. Kidnapping (3 counts): 1-30 years
b. 2019-GS-47-20 (Greenville County)
i. Trafficking Cocaine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
c. 2019-GS-47-21 (Lexington County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
d. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(47) Antonio Marcus Smith
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(48) Jamal Seantea Smith (a/k/a “Rico”)
a. 2019-GS-47-20 (Greenville County)
i. Trafficking Cocaine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000

(49) Bryan Michael Stegall
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000

(50) Anthony Jevea Turner (a/k/a “Ant) (a/k/a “Ant G”)
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(51) Jodie Crenshaw Turner
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000

(52) Michael Wayne Walker, Jr.
a. 2019-GS-47-22 (Laurens County)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
ii. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
b. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

(53) Wade Douglas Watkins
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
iii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
iv. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

(54) Dustin Allen Wilson
a. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
i. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000
ii. Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams (3 counts): 7-25 years and $50,000
iii. Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (2 counts): 5 years
iv. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
v. Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
vi. Possession of Marijuana: 0-30 days or $100-$200

The case was investigated by the South Carolina State Grand Jury, which was assisted in this case by a partnership of the Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the South Carolina Department of Corrections’ Division of Police Services, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, the Greenville County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, the Easley Police Department, the Liberty Police Department, the Pickens Police Department, and the South Carolina National Guard Governor’s Counterdrug Task Force. The cases will be prosecuted by Senior Assistant Attorney General Joshua R. Underwood, Assistant Attorney General David A. Fernandez, and State Grand Jury Chief Attorney S. Creighton Waters.

Attorney General Wilson stressed that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

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