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Elizabethton man loses house after drug distribution trial

JOHN THOMPSON • Aug 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Items sit outside Joe Coffman's home in Elizabethton. Johnson City Press photo.


The dangers of methamphetamine have been well publicized over the past several years, but one danger that isn’t often mentioned is that methamphetamine can lead to the loss of a house.

That is what has happened to former Elizabethton businessman Joe Steven Coffman, who was found guilty Aug. 8 of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Coffman was also found guilty of knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine on April 6, 2006. Coffman is scheduled for sentencing by District Judge Ronnie Greer on Dec. 3.

The same federal jury also found that the house and property Coffman owned at 817 Riverview Drive was subject to forfeiture by the federal government because it had been used to commit or facilitate the commission of Coffman’s drug violations.

The house has been placed under custody of the U.S. Marshals Service until all third party claims against the property are decided. Marshals may then dispose of the property as the attorney general directs.

Coffman had purchased the house in 1994 for $65,000.

Coffman was one of nine defendants who were indicted by a federal grand jury Jan. 9. The other defendants were Coffman’s daughter, Gloria Coffman; Alfonso R. Garcia; Maria Virginia Price; Donna J. Thomas; Charles C. Carden; Tina D. Burleson; April D. Townsend; and Crystal Rainbolt. In all, the nine defendants were named in some or all of 23 counts.

Joe Coffman was found guilty on the two counts following a trial Aug. 7-8.

Gloria Coffman was found guilty July 31 of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine following a plea agreement. In the plea agreement, Miss Coffman admitted to being a part of the conspiracy from Jan. 1, 2003, to Jan. 9, 2007.

She said she received the methamphetamine from Garcia and stashed it in a safe in her bedroom in her father’s house. The methamphetamine was distributed in Carter County.

During a search warrant executed Jan. 17, agents located the safe in Miss Coffman’s bedroom.

One confidential source said he had received a minimum of an ounce of methamphetamine a week from Miss Coffman from the spring of 2003 to the spring of 2005, for a total of 6.5 pounds of methamphetamine.

The minimum sentence for conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine is 10 years in prison. The maximum sentence is life. The maximum fine is $4 million.

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