Four Dallas-Area Residents Admit Roles in Hydrocodone and Alprazolam Distribution Conspiracy That Operated in Abilene, Lubbock, and Dallas
LUBBOCK, TX—Four Dallas–area defendants, who were indicted by a federal grand jury this summer on various felony drug offenses, pleaded guilty on Friday in federal court in Lubbock, Texas, to their roles in a hydrocodone and alprazolam distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
John Conte Smith, a/k/a “Leo,” 35, of Balch Springs, Texas; and Dallas residents, Crystal Nicole Burks, 29; Keith Deon Noel, 36; and Lee Santrell Boston, 35; each pleaded guilty, before U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings, to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute hydrocodone and alprazolam. Each faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine. Judge Cummings ordered a presentence investigation report for each defendant with sentencing dates to be set following the completion of those reports. All four defendants remain in federal custody.
According to plea documents filed in the case, from approximately February 2014 to July 2014, in the Abilene, Lubbock, and Dallas Divisions of the Northern District of Texas, Smith, Burks, Noel, and Boston conspired together, and with others, to distribute and possess with intent to distribute hydrocodone, a Schedule III, and alprazolam, a Schedule IV, controlled substance.
Smith provided others in the conspiracy prescriptions on genuine prescription forms from medical facilities with the names of actual physicians at those facilities, but with fictitious patient names. Other co-conspirators then took the prescriptions to pharmacies to have them filled, eventually taking the controlled substances back to Smith who kept some for himself and sold the remainder.
On February 2, 2014, Burks’ boyfriend was arrested for passing forged prescriptions for her. After his arrest, Burks began passing the forged prescriptions, or using others to pass them, for Smith in the Dallas area. In May 2014, Smith directed Burks to pass forged prescriptions in the Lubbock and Abilene areas, and Burks had her brother-in-law, Noel, drive her on the trip. Before they left Dallas, Burks and Noel went to a location near downtown Dallas and recruited a homeless person, Boston, to go with them. The three left Dallas and drove to Lubbock on May 20, 2014.
The next day, Burks and Noel drove Boston to several pharmacies in Lubbock where he passed forged prescriptions that Burks had given him and paid for the prescriptions with money she had given him. Boston turned over the filled prescriptions and the change to Burks.
Burks, Noel and Boston drove to Abilene the next day, May 22, 2014, and after passing forged prescriptions there, were arrested by officers with the Abilene Police Department.
A search warrant was executed at Smith’s home on July 2, 2014, and law enforcement located filled prescriptions for hydrocodone and alprazolam for persons other than Smith, as well as prepared prescription forms in other people’s names that had not yet been passed. Officers also found a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and ammunition in the nightstand by Smith’s bed.
The FBI and the Abilene Police Department investigated. Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Williams is prosecuting.