Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jan 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Sheryl Marsh, DAILY Staff Writer

Ex-Wheeler Trustee To Prison


A Morgan County judge sentenced a former Joe Wheeler Electric
Membership Corp. trustee to a total of 75 years in prison Monday after
he pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Circuit Judge Steve Haddock gave David Blankenship 15 years each for
four counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and 15
years for trafficking in a controlled substance. The sentences will
run concurrently, which means Blankenship will have to serve time on
only one of the 15-year sentences.

In addition to the sentences, Haddock ordered Blankenship to pay a
$50,000 fine in the trafficking case.

Blankenship, 60, of Priceville plea-bargained with the district
attorney's office to enter the guilty pleas, according to court
records. Initially, authorities charged Blankenship with two counts of
trafficking in Oxycontin, a medication given to cancer patients. As a
part of the plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to one count and the
state dropped the other charge, records show.

He was also charged with six counts of unlawful distribution of a
controlled substance and possession of marijuana for personal use. The
state dropped two of the unlawful distribution charges and the
possession of marijuana, which is a misdemeanor. The state allowed him
to plead guilty to the four counts of unlawful distribution.

Probation was not considered in the case. Blankenship will have to
serve prison time, officials said, but at some point he could be
eligible for parole.

Blankenship, who has health problems, was a Joe Wheeler trustee for 10
years before police arrested him in April. Police raided his store
adjacent to his home at Alabama 67 and New Center Road. At the time,
authorities said they collected drugs, surveillance equipment, a
police scanner and about $4,000 in cash.
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