Two Letcher County residents have pleaded guilty to federal drug conspiracy charges after their arrests here in 2018.
Samantha Collins, 38, of Bottom Fork, and Michael Slone, 42, of Sandlick, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pikeville to engaging in a conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. Collins also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
The charges stem from dual investigations by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office. The ATF was already investigating the case, unbeknownst to the sheriff’s department, in 2018 when then-Deputies Alicia Congleton and Sidney Fields obtained a search warrant for the home where Collins lived with her father, Danny Robert Collins, at Bottom Fork. The sheriff ’s department served the warrant on March 12, 2018 and discovered about four pounds of methamphetamines.
According to the plea agreement, the government planned to prove that beginning in or about November of 2017 and continuing through the date of the search warrant, in Letcher County, and elsewhere, Collins conspired with others to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.
Specifically, the plea agreement says, through an agreement with others, Collins sold methamphetamine out of the home she shared with her father on Bottom Fork.
The ATF used a confidential informant to conduct six controlled purchases of meth at the residence. Collins sold both methamphetamine and firearms during these transactions, court records say.
During one such controlled purchase on January 17, 2018, Collins possessed a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum short-barrel handgun that was black in color during the drug transaction with the informant. The informant expressed an interest in buying the firearm and Collins stated she was not interested in selling it, the agreement says. The firearm was returned to her purse, but she then offered to sell the informant a shotgun that was close by.
When the sheriff ’s department served a search warrant on March 12, 2018, deputies found four pounds of methamphetamine and multiple firearms, the agreement says.
The punishment for the conspiracy charge is not less than 10 years and not more than life imprisonment, a fine of not more than $10,000,000, and a term of supervised release of at least 5 years. The punishment for the firearms charge is not less than 5 years nor more than life imprisonment, to be served consecutive to any term of imprisonment imposed for any other offense, not more than a $250,000 fine, and not more than 5 years of supervised release. There is also a mandatory special assessment of $200.
The prosecution is recommending a reduction in the sentencing guidelines because of Collins taking responsibility for her actions, but it is also recommending that the judge consider the offense included at least 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamines, and possibly as much as 2.5 kilograms. A kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds. The agreement is signed by Collins and her attorney.
Slone pleaded guilty only to the conspiracy charge, which contains the same facts laid out in the case against Samantha Collins, but it also includes details of how the drugs were brought into Letcher County.
According to the agreement signed by Slone and his attorney, he traveled with an unnamed co-conspirator to Louisville on four to five occasions to purchase “pound level quantities” of methamphetamine from a supplier. Slone personally received over 500 grams of methamphetamine during the Louisville trips. Slone, through an agreement with co-conspirators, would then return to the eastern Kentucky and resell the drugs to end users and middlemen in smaller quantities, the agreement says.
Samantha Collins’s father, Danny Robert “Danny Bob” Collins, was also charged in the case and has pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for March.