Former Hockley County Chief Deputy Sheriff Pleads Guilty in Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 21, 2009|
LUBBOCK, TX—Gordon Clark Bohannon of Levelland, Texas, the former Chief Deputy of the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to his role in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Bohannon and 27 others were charged in July 2009 in a 110-count indictment with operating a major methamphetamine trafficking organization in west Texas, Arizona, and in the Modesto, California area since 2003. One other Hockely County Sheriff’s Deputy charged in that indictment, Jose Jesus Quintanilla, 39, of Smyer, Texas, pleaded guilty last month to one count of misprision of a felony, and is awaiting sentencing. The lead defendant in the case, Bobby Duwayne Froman, of Levelland, Texas, pleaded guilty to his role as leader of the conspiracy earlier this month. If the Court accepts the terms of Froman’s plea agreement, he will face a 240-month prison sentence and will be required to forfeit two residences, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and a truck. Additionally, he will have to pay a $900,000.00 money judgment to the United States. A sentencing date for Froman has not yet been set.
Bohannon, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $4 million fine. Under the terms of the plea agreement, however, Bohannon faces a sentence of 120 months in prison, and no fine, if the Court accepts the plea. Judge Cummings ordered a pre-sentence investigation report with sentencing to be scheduled after the completion of that report. Bohannon has been in custody since his arrest in July. All but one of the defendants charged in the case have pleaded guilty to their roles and are awaiting sentencing. The indictment was dismissed against three of the defendants.
In October 2007, law enforcement initiated an investigation into the narcotics trafficking activities of Bobby Duwayne Froman, a/k/a “Quick,” the founder of the Aces and Eights Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG). From January 2003 to early July 2009, defendants Bobby Duwayne Froman, Gordon Clark Bohannon, Charity Bell Barron, Jeffrey Paul Bayer, Clifford Leroy Clark, Earnest Gale Flowers, Sharon T. Froman, Billy Charles Fuller, Bradley Gene Gore, Danny Keith Gregory, Jason Gutierrez, Dennis Carl Hegwood, Gary Duane Hegwood, Kimberly Hull, Andrew Clay Hurst, Kenneth Ray Johnson, Teddy Ralph Johnson, Stephanie Renee McKee, Keith Allen Miller, Jamie Paul Nickell, Kristi Ann Quillen, Jose Jesus Quintanilla, Hector Ramos, Perry Dean Roberson, David Lee Russell, Steven Allen Savell, Toni Jo Petska-Wood, and Marvin Lee Whittington, conspired with each other and others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine.
Froman’s co-conspirators transported large amounts of U.S. currency from Lubbock and Levelland, Texas, to Modesto to purchase large quantities of methamphetamine from Russell and Hegwood. Froman and others then distributed it in Levelland, Lubbock and throughout the South Plains area of West Texas.
Some of the conspirators maintained the following residences to store, weigh, package and distribute the methamphetamine: (1) Froman’s residence on Cactus Drive in Levelland; (2) Bayer’s residence on North Highway US 385 in Levelland; (3) Gore’s residence on Elgin Avenue in Levelland; (4) Whittington and Petska-Wood’s residence on 53rd Street in Lubbock; and (5) Ramos’s residence on 91st Street in Lubbock County.
Bohannon was employed as deputy, lieutenant, and chief deputy of the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office. According to documents filed in court, on April 1, 2009, the government asked permission to conduct a wire intercept of Froman’s cell phone, which the district court granted. Based in part on information obtained from that wiretap, the district court authorized the Government to conduct a wire intercept of Bohannon’s cell phone. During the approximate two-month period that Froman’s calls were intercepted, 473 pertinent calls were recorded. For the approximate month that Bohannon’s calls were intercepted, 155 pertinent phone calls were recorded.
Bohannon played a vital role in the conspiracy by using his position in law enforcement to protect and shield Froman’s methamphetamine trafficking organization. Bohannon not only obtained sensitive law enforcement information for the benefit of the conspiracy, but he also disrupted legitimate law enforcement efforts to investigate the conspiracy, thereby protecting it from discovery and its members from apprehension. In so doing, Bohannon aided and abetted prohibited persons in possessing firearms, aided and abetted a co-conspirator in possessing a sawed-off shotgun, and assisted that same co-conspirator in fabricating a statement in an attempt to avoid liability for that illegal shotgun.
Bohannon made several efforts to get charges against Froman dropped after Froman was arrested on December 30, 2007, for evading arrest with a motor vehicle, including meeting with the District Attorney and vouching for Froman, asking the DA if he could find it in his heart to dismiss the current case against Froman in the interest of justice. As Froman’s state trial date approached, Bohannon’s attempts to influence the District Attorney to dismiss the case escalated.
Bohannon disclosed confidential law enforcement information. In one instance, on May 15, 2009, Bohannon advised Bradley Gene Gore that law enforcement was executing a search warrant on Gore’s residence. Bohannon expressed concern that Gore possessed a sawed off shotgun, a prohibited weapon, and coached Gore to fabricate a false statement regarding the sawed off shotgun.
The following month, on April 20, 2009, Bohannon disclosed confidential law enforcement information when he advised Froman that his (Froman’s) residence was under surveillance, revealing the identity of two Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) surveillance vehicles that were, in fact, involved in an active surveillance in and around Levelland to augment the ongoing wiretap and react to information gleaned from that wiretap. Bohannon later admitted to FBI agents that he had talked to Bobby Froman and “alerted him to the fact he was being watched, and [he] kn[ew] this was not the right thing to do. It was wrong to tell Bobby Froman of the law enforcement operations.”
In another instance, Bohannon vouched for Froman when he received a phone call from a narcotics detective with the Roswell Police Department who informed him that he was involved in a narcotics investigation, which was probably going to go federal, and that during the investigation an informant gave the name Bobby Froman as a major methamphetamine dealer. Bohannon told the narcotics detective that it would be a waste of time to investigate Froman.
Bohannon also retaliated against people he perceived to be a threat to the drug distribution conspiracy. Bohannon furnished the name of informants to Froman and used Deputy Jose Jesus Quantinilla to help orchestrate one person’s arrest in June 2009. After Froman and Patrick McKnight’s arrest on December 30, 2007, Bohannnon instructed Deputy Jose Jesus Quintanilla to get a search warrant for McKnight’s residence. Bohannon told Quintanilla that the dope would be in a stereo speaker in the “little house” where McKnight resided. Quintanilla obtained a search warrant for McKnight’s residence on October 16, 2008. Quintanilla and other deputies executed the search warrant while Bohannon was physically located at the Sonic in Levelland. Co-conspirators Froman, Gore, and J.P Nickell watched from Froman’s back yard on ladders. While Quintanilla found two syringes, he could not find any methamphetamine. He called Bohannon at the Sonic and told him there was no dope. Bohannon asked Quintanilla if he was sure, telling him to look in the stereo system cabinet for a Marlboro box which would contain the methamphetamine. Quintanilla told Bohannon that the box was there, but there were only two syringes. Bohannon told Quintanilla to look in the speakers and that he was going to send the confidential informant over there. Bohannon then stated words to the effect of “well, hold on, let me call and see where she pu . . ., hold on I’ll call you back.” This was a reference to Bohannon contacting the purported confidential informant, who was to plant methamphetamine in McKnight’s residence. Bohannon stated he was going to send the confidential informant over there to Quintanilla, stating you’ll know the CI when she comes. Bohannon then contacted Gore and instructed Gore to pick up the confidential informant and bring her to Quintanilla. Bohannon did this to discredit McKnight and further assist Froman in having his state drug case dismissed. Prior to this incident, J.P Nickell heard Froman tell Bohannon that McKnight was a snitch on Froman, and “we’re going to get him.” Bohannon responded okay.
On July 10, 2009, Bohannon admitted to FBI agents that some of the guns in Gore’s possession belonged to Froman. Bohannon admitted that he knew Froman was a convicted felon who was prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshal Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Hockley County District Attorney’s Office, the Levelland Police Department, the Lubbock Police Department, and the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys C. Richard Baker, Jeffrey R. Haag, and Denise Williams, of the Lubbock, Texas, U.S. Attorney’s Office, are prosecuting the case.