Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jan 2006
Source: Watertown Daily Times (NY)
Copyright: 2006 Watertown Daily Times
Author: Brian Kelly, staff writer
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


A Utica man characterized by prosecutors as a large-scale cocaine
dealer whose network extended to Watertown was sentenced Thursday in
U.S. District Court to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Justin P. Powell, 32, originally was sentenced to 20 years in prison
in 2002 after being found guilty by a jury of distributing cocaine and
crack cocaine, possessing cocaine and crack with the intent to
distribute it and conspiring to distribute it.

He and a second Utica man, Leon F. Henry, 39, had been charged April 9
2002, with having drugs in their vehicle after it was stopped on Route
12 in the town of Watertown by members of the Metro-Jefferson Drug
Task Force.

Court papers also show the pair also had sold two "eight-balls" of
crack the previous day in the 300 block of State Street in Watertown.

Federal prosecutors appealed the original sentence to the U.S. Court
of Appeals, Second Circuit, claiming that federal law mandates a life
sentence because Mr. Powell had two prior felony drug convictions and
was charged April 9, 2002 with having more than 50 grams of crack.

The Second Court issued a decision April 13 agreeing with the
government's argument and ordered the District Court to sentence Mr.
Powell to life in prison without parole.

Mr. Henry, who had one prior felony drug conviction, was sentenced to
a mandatory term of 20 years in state prison.

In 2003, he sued Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert
and members of the Watertown Police Department and Jefferson County
Sheriff's Department, claiming they had lied when obtaining a warrant
to search his Suburban on Route 12. He also claimed that his vehicle
was seized illegally and that evidence found inside had been planted
by police.

In his federal lawsuit , he demanded that he be paid $40,000 for his
vehicle and the mobile entertainment system inside and that he be
further compensated with $2.3 million.

The suit was dismissed in federal court.
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