GREENEVILLE — A Gray man was sentenced to two decades in federal prison Monday for his role in a methamphetamine conspiracy involving more than 30 individuals
Vernon Luke Bowser, 46, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge J. Ronnie Greer to serve 240 months in prison after he was found guilty of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine.
Bowser was one of 20 individuals indicted in January 2012 for the conspiracy.
The indictments were returned after law enforcement agents found meth labs, or meth equipment and residue, at seven homes in Gray, Jonesborough and Watauga, Tenn.
Currently, 19 of these 20 individuals have been sentenced.
Another 11 individuals were indicted in October 2011 as part of the same meth conspiracy and have also been sentenced. A total of 18 more individuals are awaiting sentencing, with two others facing trial, in a third indictment related to the conspiracy that was returned in December 2012.
Authorities said the conspiracy lasted more than three years and involved the manufacturing of more than 1,462 grams of methamphetamine at 16 meth labs, including homes, a school bus, barns and vehicles in Washington, Carter, Greene and Unicoi counties.
The United States forfeited $14,700 in proceeds from the sale of property used to manufacture meth and an additional six acres of property located on Airport Road for the same reason.
In addition to Bowser, other individuals who have already been sentenced in the conspiracy include Edward Cato, 45; Ricky Birchfield, 42; Lowell Bowser, 46; Dashauna Frye, 38; Scotty Frye, 42; Tim Honeycutt Sr., 49; Tim (TJ) Honeycutt Jr., 23; Nancy Lafollette, 52; Renee Martius, 33; David Tucker, 24; and Ronnie Tucker, 44, all of Gray.
Sentencing has also taken place for the following individuals from Johnson City: James Arnn, 45; Jimmy Hale, 56; Gregg Herron, 42; Brandon Holder, 30; Josh Mabery, 38; Kimberlie Molnar, 44; Andrew Rowland, 41; Danny Wilcox, 37; and Joshua York, 38.
The remaining individuals who have been sentenced include Leroy Bowser, 43, and Linda Woolfrey, 48, of Kingsport; Tavia Harris, 32, of Bristol; Dean Hollifield, 52, and Cindy Waters, 49, of Fall Branch; William Koenig, 35, Teresa Markland, 43, and Bryan Paul, 52, of Jonesborough; and Neil Hensley, 38, of Unicoi.
“Tennessee has been identified as having one of the highest rates of meth addiction in the United States,” U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said. “Meth has no legitimate uses and it destroys lives, families, and communities. We will continue to devote appropriate resources to rid our communities of the scourge of meth by vigorous prosecution and meaningful prison terms.”
A number of law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation that led to the indictments and subsequent convictions.
Those include the Tennessee First and Second Judicial District Drug Task Forces, the Washington County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Vice Unit, the Kingsport Police Department, the Johnson City Police Department, the Tennessee National Guard, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Elizabethton Police Department, the TBI, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, the Greeneville Police Department, the FBI and ATF.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith prosecuted the case.