Originally created 11/27/02

Men get jail time for drugs



Two men received hefty sentences Tuesday in a drug trafficking case in which their co-defendant skipped town in the middle of trial.

Kevin Taylor, 31, was sentenced to concurrent terms of 25 years and 10 years for trafficking in cocaine and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, respectively. Norval Patten, 26, received concurrent terms of 30 years and 10 years for the same offenses. Each man also was hit with a $1 million fine.

A jury convicted the pair and co-defendant Robert Hall Jr. after a trial two weeks ago. But police have been on the hunt for Mr. Hall since Nov. 8, when he didn't show up for court.

Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. issued a warrant for Mr. Hall's arrest and for the forfeiture of the $60,000 bond posted by a relative. On Nov. 9, after the guilty verdicts were announced, Judge Fleming sentenced Mr. Hall to the maximum 40-year prison sentence and $1 million fine.

The case began when narcotics officer Mathue Phares discovered a UPS package contained 40 pounds of marijuana in April 2001. Before the day was over, officers found an additional 2.2 pounds of cocaine and a plastic garbage bag holding nearly $100,000 in cash.

Evidence showed Mr. Hall and Mr. Taylor accompanied a third man - 27-year-old Joseph Scurry - when he picked up the UPS package. Mr. Patten, the evidence showed, rented a Ridgecrest Drive apartment where the cocaine and cash was discovered, and he rented at least one cell phone that was used by a person who inquired about the package.

Mr. Patten received the heavier sentence for cocaine trafficking after Assistant District Attorney Shauna Reeves asked Judge Fleming to consider his previous felony convictions.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.