James West (a.k.a. James Simonton III and James Fitzgerald Robinson) agreed to plead guilty to the following charges last month in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.
— Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, which carries a sentence of five to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $5 million.
— Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
West and his father — James Simonton Sr. and Kai Tierre Williams — were charged with drug and firearms offenses in a 10-count indictment in February of this year. Sentencing for West is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2018.
The story behind West’s arrest began with a call to Kingsport police in July 2016 about an armed robbery at a Teasel Drive apartment.
According to court records, the robbery victim said two African-American men forcibly entered her apartment, brandished a pistol and demanded money.
When the victim threatened to call the police, both suspects fled the scene. Then, while responding to the call, officers spotted a suspect matching the description of one of the robbers.
The suspect was detained, eventually arrested and told officers that he and his brother — James West — had been the ones who threatened and attempted to rob the victim.
The next day, the victim spotted West at the Teasel Drive apartment complex and called the police. Officers responded, talked to West’s girlfriend and searched the couple’s apartment.
According to the plea agreement, police found nearly 17 grams of crack cocaine in a Crown Royal bag in the bedroom closet, a .22-caliber revolver, a 9mm pistol and other drug paraphernalia.
West was then arrested and while in custody told police his father — Simonton Sr. — had called him four months prior and invited him to Kingsport. When he moved to the city, West began selling crack cocaine for his father, court records state.
West told officers his father would give him an ounce of crack in exchange for $900 from the sale of the crack cocaine. West said he would make about $3,000 per ounce, selling about an ounce every other day.
Court records state West claimed responsibility for selling 112 to 196 grams of crack cocaine while working for his father.