Sentencings in Athens-Area Armed Drug Trafficking Cases

4 min read
Seized evidence

Three defendants found guilty in multiple armed drug trafficking investigations in the Athens community were sentenced to federal prison this week for their crimes.

Stacey Collins aka “Sue,” 45, of Alto, Georgia, was sentenced to 240 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine in Case No. 3:22-cr-00009.

Juan Carlos Pimentel aka “Manuel Romero Gonzalez,” age unknown, of Athens and Mexico, was sentenced to 168 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin in Case No. 3:20-cr-00045. Co-conspirator, Steven Ricole Scott aka “Black” aka “Unc,” 47, of Athens, was sentenced to 120 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine in Case No. 3:20-cr-00008.

U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal handed down the sentences on July 10. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Not only are illegal controlled substances themselves growing deadlier due to the intentional or the unintentional mixing in of fentanyl, drug trafficking networks often precipitate violent crime that simply cannot be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “These cases demonstrate our office’s firm commitment to support local, state and federal law enforcement in their efforts to hold armed drug traffickers accountable in the Athens area.”

“The sentencing of these individuals ends an exhaustive investigation and proves that the FBI and our partners will spare no resource when it comes to ending an epidemic in our society that fuels violent crime and kills our citizens,” said Robert Gibbs, Supervisory Senior Resident Agent of FBI Atlanta’s Athens office. “We want to thank our partners who relentlessly work along our side to dismantle these organized, violent criminal enterprises.”

“Drug dealing breeds violence and traffickers who engage in this dangerous lifestyle often protect their drug stash with firearms,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “Consequently, these defendants will spend well-deserved time in prison. DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to making communities safer by removing such criminals from the streets.”

According to court documents in the Collins case, federal agents learned in 2018 that co-conspirator Malcody Dinges aka “Cody” aka “Yes, Sir Cody,” 44, was conducting drug deals using contraband cell phones while in custody at Wheeler Correctional Facility. During the investigation, agents learned that Dinges was communicating with Collins and other co-defendants located in the Athens region about controlled substances; these individuals would travel to locations in Atlanta as directed by Dinges to receive methamphetamine and return to Athens to distribute the drugs. Dinges received a fee for brokering the deals. Collins kept large amounts of Dinges’s drug proceeds, methamphetamine and other illegal substances at her northeast Georgia home. A subsequent investigation led to her arrest in possession of a five-gallon bag of methamphetamine and approximately $4,300 in cash. A search warrant was executed at her home where agents located several bags of methamphetamine and a firearm. Collins admitted she kept the drugs and up to $50,000 cash at her home because she was a trusted associate of Dinges. Dinges was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine on Dec. 16, 2021.

According to court documents in the Pimentel and Scott case, agents were investigating the distribution of illegal controlled substances and firearms from the Athens Gardens Apartment Complex by Rickshun Willingham, of Athens, who is deceased. Willingham obtained drugs from Pimentel and Scott, and agents observed Willingham purchasing drugs from Scott’s stash house on Lombardy Circle in Athens. During the investigation, Willingham arranged to buy one kilogram of heroin for $77,000 from Pimentel and another co-conspirator at Pimentel’s home in Athens in Dec. 2019. Willingham told Scott he “robbed the Mexicans” by using $50,000 in fake currency. Scott warned him to be careful because they carry firearms. Under surveillance, Pimentel conducted additional large quantity transactions of heroin. Multiple search warrants were executed in Jan. 2020, including at Pimentel’s residence. Agents seized two firearms and ammunition, $20,000 cash, several cell phones used for drug distribution, receipts for money transfers to Mexico and vacuum sealed bags. Additional narcotics were located at stash houses of co-conspirators named in the indictment. Pimentel is responsible for distributing between three and ten kilograms of heroin. Scott is responsible for distributing 780 grams of crack cocaine.