Whitesburg KY

Former Knott candidate dealt drugs for 10 years

James R. Combs, 60, of Mallie in Knott County, was sentenced May 5 to the statutory maximum 71 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove for conspiring to distribute massive quantities of hydrocodone and oxycodone for nearly a decade. The court also found that Combs tried to influence, intimidate and bribe a key witness in the case to influence or alter testimony.

In October 2007, Combs pleaded guilty and admitted that from January 1997 until March 2006, he conspired with others to distribute approximately 85,000 units of pills containing hydrocodone and 104 units of 5 milligram tablets containing oxycodone.

In September 2005, a confidential informant of Kentucky State Police (KSP) bought several hydrocodone tablets off Combs. In March 2006, KSP arrested Combs at his business and found approximately $20,000 in cash in his pocket and a search of his residence resulted in the recovery of cash and certificates of deposit totaling approximately $755,099. Combs was a candidate for Knott County Judge/Executive at the time of his arrest in 2006.

James A. Zerhusen, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Rodney Brewer, Kentucky State Police commissioner; and Larry R. Willis, acting special agent in charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), jointly made the announcement after the sentencing.

The investigation was conducted by FBI and KSP. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen C. Smith.

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