3 People Sentenced For Roles In Drug Ring That Shipped 500 Pounds Of Marijuana From Arizona To NJ

TRENTON – Three people were sentenced to state prison today for their roles in a drug ring that shipped more than 500 pounds of marijuana, worth approximately $1 million, from Arizona to New Jersey using UPS and FedEx, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced. Two other defendants also face lengthy prison sentences in the case.

According to Director Taylor, the following three defendants were sentenced today by Superior Court Judge Ronald D. Wigler in Essex County sentenced the following defendants, who all pleaded to charges of first-degree distribution of marijuana and third-degree distribution of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school on the eve of trial in September:

  • Donald H. Giddings, aka Tyrone Johnson, 46, of Queens Village, N.Y, who also pleaded guilty to bail jumping, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, including 9 years of parole ineligibility;
  • Sharon Vanessa Phillips, 35, of Maricopa City, Arizona, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including 40 months of parole ineligibility; and
  • Gary Leyton Brown, 37, of Fort Myers, Florida, was sentenced to 13 years in state prison, including 6 ½ years of parole ineligibility.

The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau and Arizona Department of Public Safety. A fourth defendant, James McKoy, 50, of Brooklyn, N.Y., pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced on Nov. 18 to 12 years in prison, including five years without parole.

The final defendant, Roy Winston Harte, 52, of Irvington, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 20 by Wigler. Harte was convicted on Oct. 7 by an Essex County jury of three counts of first-degree distribution of marijuana, two counts of first-degree possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, one count of second-degree conspiracy, and one count of third-degree distribution of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. He faces up to 20 years in state prison on the first-degree charge, including a period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed.

A June 29, 2010 superseding indictment charged Harte and the four co-defendants with conspiring in 2007 to ship about 513 pounds of marijuana, worth approximately $1 million, via UPS and FedEx from Arizona to a business address in Fairfield, N.J., where Harte worked as a production manager.

The investigation revealed that on June 27, 2007, Brown and Giddings drove Phillips to a UPS store in Maricopa City, Arizona, where she shipped four packages containing marijuana. One of the packages was mailed to Toronto, Canada, and the others were sent to the business address in Fairfield, N.J., where Harte worked.

On July 3, 2007, Phillips attempted to send an additional four boxes containing marijuana to Harte, again addressed to the business in Fairfield. Two boxes were sent through UPS and two were sent via FedEx. Members of the Arizona Department of Public Safety seized those four boxes. Searches of the boxes revealed approximately 212 pounds of marijuana.

On July 5, 2007, three of the boxes sent on June 27 were delivered to Harte at the business address in Fairfield. Less than two hours after the delivery, McKoy and Harte loaded the boxes into McKoy’s car and McKoy drove away. The vehicle was stopped by the New Jersey State Police at the entrance to Route 46 in Fairfield and troopers arrested McKoy. The boxes in the car contained approximately 125 pounds of marijuana.

Later that day, members of the New Jersey State Police Drug Trafficking Central and North Units executed a search warrant at Harte’s place of employment in Fairfield and arrested him.

While the arrests were being made in New Jersey, authorities in Arizona executed a search warrant at Phillips’ residence in Maricopa City, Arizona, where they arrested Giddings and Brown. The search yielded approximately 170 pounds of marijuana, packaging material and a scale. Phillips arrived during the search and was also arrested.

On July 6, 2007, an attempt was made to deliver four additional packages from Arizona to the business address in Fairfield where Harte worked, two through UPS and two via FedEx. The packages were seized by the New Jersey State Police and were found to contain an additional 176 pounds of marijuana.

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