Lee sentenced to 10-plus years in prison

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2019

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NEW BERN – A Bertie County man will spend the next 10 years and six months behind bars for the possession and distribution of illegal drugs.

In Federal District Court here Monday, Donnell Lee, age 42 of Lewiston-Woodville, was sentenced by United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan to 128 months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release.

Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Lemmon prosecuted the case for the government.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, stated that Lee had entered a guilty plea earlier this year to distribution and possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin and a quantity of cocaine base (crack), as well as possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin and a quantity of cocaine base (crack).

The Bertie County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) began an investigation in 2016 utilizing a confidential informant (CI) in order to conduct controlled purchases of heroin from Lee. Higdon said the CI met three times with Lee at Lee’s residence on Oak Drive in Lewiston-Woodville.

Later in 2016 (Dec. 14), BCSO deputies travelled to Lee’s residence to execute a search warrant. While surveilling the residence, investigators observed Lee burying glass mason jars on the curtilage of his property. Investigators subsequently searched the area where Lee was observed and discovered glass mason jars containing quantities of cocaine base (crack), heroin, marijuana, and rice as a moisture absorber.

Inside the residence, investigators recovered $2,128 in U.S. currency, scales, plastic baggies, other drug paraphernalia, and additional quantities of heroin, cocaine base, and marijuana.

The total amount of controlled substances recovered were 855 bindles of heroin (25.65 grams of heroin), 146 baggies of cocaine base (59.86 grams of cocaine base), and 144.8 grams of marijuana.

On Feb. 22, 2018, Lee’s vehicle was stopped at a traffic checkpoint conducted by the BCSO. As he drove towards the checkpoint, investigators observed Lee placing items into the backseat of his vehicle. Lee was asked to exit the vehicle and subsequently attempted to flee on foot, but was quickly apprehended.

A search of Lee revealed $1,745 in U.S. currency. Officers searched Lee’s vehicle and discovered an additional quantity of heroin, for a total of 760 bindles of heroin (22.8 grams of heroin), as well as 10.55 grams of cocaine, 1 gram of marijuana, digital scales, and plastic baggies.

Based upon the preceding, from Oct. 19, 2016 through Feb. 22, 2018, Lee is accountable for 49.35 grams of heroin, 10.55 grams of cocaine, 59.86 grams of cocaine base, and 990.94 grams of marijuana.

Lee also has several previous convictions. He served nearly 13 years in prison after being convicted of second degree murder in Bertie County in 1996. Lee was arrested on three other occasions (2000, 2013 and 2014) for possession of controlled substances.

The most recent case against Lee is part of the United States Attorney’s Office’s Take Back North Carolina Initiative. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

For additional information about this initiative, click here https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/tbnc.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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