GREENEVILLE - A Church Hill man characterized by police as a career criminal will likely spend the remainder of his life in prison stemming from his federal gun and drug convictions that occurred in Greeneville in January.
Dana Preston Gregory, 52, was sentenced to 42 years and seven months in prison by U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer Monday in Greeneville federal court. His residence at 455 Devault St., Church Hill, was also ordered forfeited to authorities.
As the result of two raids in July 2005 - one at Gregory's residence and one at a rented storage building - a large cache of OxyContin and about 200 guns were seized. Gregory was convicted on seven federal charges following a five-day trial in early January.
Church Hill Police Department Chief Mark Johnson said his department had been investigating Gregory's illegal activities for about 20 years prior to his 2005 arrest.
Most recently the CHPD had been investigating Gregory's business of trading stolen property for drugs. At the same time the federal department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was investigating weapons charges on Gregory.
Johnson said that just prior to the July 2005 raids the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation put his department in touch with the ATF to conduct a joint raid.
"This case was the culmination of a lot of work by our agency and several other agencies," Johnson said. "We're pleased with the sentence, and I think it makes a strong statement to people who mix guns and drugs."
As a result of the initial raid on Gregory's home, police seized an enormous quantity of stolen property including building materials, tools, hot tubs, assorted equipment, guns and other miscellaneous items. They also found large bags of pills some of which was later identified as OxyContin.
Among the guns seized from Gregory's residence was a fully loaded M-1 machine gun located within arms reach of his living room couch.
A week later authorities searched a storage unit on Main Street in Church Hill and discovered more than 100 additional guns, some of which had been reported stolen.
Johnson said the stolen property recovered from Gregory helped solve many pending burglary and theft cases in Hawkins and Sullivan counties.
Gregory has never given statements as to who provided him with the stolen property, however, and no other arrests have occurred as a result of the investigation.
Johnson said that in light of the long federal prison sentence he doubts if his stolen property possession cases against Gregory will ever be prosecuted.
Among the charges Gregory was convicted of in January were 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).
Gregory remains lodged in the Washington County Jail pending his transfer to a federal penitentiary. His home will be auctioned and the proceeds will be divided between the ATF, TBI and CHPD.