Convicted Church Hill career criminal faces at least 30 years in prison

Jeff Bobo • Jan 11, 2007 at 11:27 AM

GREENEVILLE - A Church Hill man whom police characterize as a career criminal was convicted Wednesday in federal court in Greeneville on seven of eight weapons and drug charges stemming from two raids that occurred in July 2005.

Officers from city, county, state and federal agencies initially found 22 OxyContin pills and 16 guns including a fully loaded M-1 machine gun as a result of a raid at the home of Dana Preston Gregory, 52, 455 Devault St., Church Hill.

A week later, authorities executed a search warrant at a storage lot rented by Gregory in Church Hill and found another 200 guns.

Following a five-day jury trial that began last week in federal court, Gregory was found guilty of seven charges: two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; possession with intent to distribute OxyContin; possession of firearms in furtherance of the drug crime; possession of the machine gun in furtherance of the drug crime; possession of the machine gun; and possession of prohibited items while incarcerated as a federal inmate at the Washington County Jail (a syringe and a razor blade).

The one charge Gregory was acquitted of was conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute OxyContin.

Gregory is scheduled for sentencing on April 9.

Federal prosecutor Nancy Harr said Thursday that the conviction for possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a drug crime alone carries a statutory minimum sentence of 30 years. She noted, however, that sentences for some of the other charges will likely run consecutively for a more lengthy sentence.

"It's a big range of years he's looking at," Harr said. "For counts one and two (possession of a weapon by a felon) there's a 10-year maximum, and the machine gun charge has a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years. We take machine guns very seriously.

"Many of the sentences will have to stack up consecutively, so he's looking at a lot of time."

Thursday morning in federal court, the forfeiture of Gregory's property into federal possession was approved.

Aside from the Church Hill Police Department, other agencies that participated in the 2005 raids included the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office.

CHPD Chief Mark Johnson said Gregory's conviction was the culmination of 25 years of investigation on the part of multiple agencies.

"Our agency convicted Gregory of felony drug trafficking in 1994, but he was only sentenced to three years," Johnson said. "The latest investigation was headed up by (CHPD) Detective Dustin Dean and agents from the ATF and TBI. Each of them did an excellent job.

"Gregory is a career criminal whose number finally came up."

Johnson added that in preparing for Gregory's trial over the past year and a half, his department uncovered a lot of information on individuals involved in criminal activity in Church Hill. Johnson said he anticipates other people being charged in the coming months.

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