Nelson Commonwealth Attorney : Four Pled Guilty to Racketeering and Drug Charges

File photo : Nelson County Commonwealth Attorney Daniel Rutherford (above) made the announcement Monday afternoon.
File photo : Nelson Commonwealth Attorney Daniel Rutherford made the announcement on Friday – February 8, 2019

Nelson County, Virginia

Release Via Nelson CA office:

“Friday afternoon, Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Rutherford
announced that four individuals, Amanda White, Charles Anthony “Tony” Fitzgerald, Dakota
Johnson and James Douglas Warren, pled guilty to their involvement in a corrupt organization of
individuals that trafficked methamphetamine into Nelson County and Central Virginia. Each of
the four pled guilty to one count of racketeering. Fitzgerald and Johnson also had additional
felony charges of possession of Methamphetamine. These individuals were connected with
Phillip Bennet of Atlanta, Georgia, who pled guilty to two counts of racketeering and enhanced
distribution of Methamphetamine in the Nelson County Circuit Court on June 29, 2018. Also
connected with these individuals: Otis Knapp, Joe Louis Earhart, Kathleen Howard Varner,
James Hunsinger, John Wayne Lawhorne and Donald Gerald Coles, all of whom previously pled
guilty to racketeering in the Nelson County Circuit Court.

From March 2016 through November 2017, Earhart, Coles, Varner, Johnson and
Hunsinger transported Methamphetamine from Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina to
the Central Virginia area and then facilitated the distribution to Lawhorne, Warren and other
individuals in Nelson and the surrounding counties. After that Methamphetamine was
distributed, funds were wired back to Bennet to purchase more Methamphetamine. At the outset
of the operation, Amanda White facilitated Bennet in collecting payment for the
Methamphetamine that was trafficked. In addition to money wires, White would set up bank
accounts in her name so that Knapp and Earhart could deposit proceeds from drug sales into
those accounts. Those proceeds would then be given to Bennet. At the height of the ring’s
operation, one pound of Methamphetamine was trafficked every week into Central Virginia.

These charges stem from a lengthy investigation by the Virginia State Police Bureau of
Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office, the Skyline Drug Task Force, of which the
Nelson County Sheriff’s Office is a member, the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement (J.A.D.E.)
Task Force and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Nelson County.

“The guilty pleas from these eleven individuals represent an ongoing fulfillment of a
promise I made 3 years ago when I announced my candidacy for Nelson County
Commonwealth’s Attorney. My office will continue to aggressively prosecute those who traffic
and distribute drugs that come into Nelson County.”

Daniel Rutherford
Commonwealth’s Attorney
Nelson County”


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