Man gets 11 years in plot to kill TBI agent
A Cocke County oxycodone dealer who plotted to “take out” a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Matthew Thompson as a means of distancing himself from the drug charges was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison on Thursday, according to court documents.
U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan sentenced to Clayton Carroll Owenby, 45, to two concurrent 135-month prison terms. Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen indicated Owenby received an unspecified sentence reduction because he assisted in the prosecution of others.
“This sentence reflects not only the defendant’s serious original crime, but the totally unacceptable threats of physical harm to the federal agent and his family,” U.S. Attorney General William C. Killian said in a prepared statement.
Thompson was working with a federal task force when Owenby became a target in the investigation.
The case was initially assigned to U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer, but Greer handed the case off because Owenby and his mother, 64-year-old Kathleen Laws Garrett, also discussed harming Greer, according to court documents.
The discussion occurred on a jail phone while Owenby was awaiting trial on the oxycodone charges and it didn’t appear to be idle talk. They apparently didn’t know jails routinely record all telephone calls involving inmates.
“If I’m gonna do life in prison, them I’m gonna be all over the (expletive) nationwide news for taking these (expletives) out,” according to his plea agreement.
The conversation occurred one day after Kerney-Quillen indicated in a court filing she planned to use Owenby’s four prior oxycodone-related convictions in Cocke County Criminal Court to enhance his federal prison term.
What Owenby also apparently didn’t know is that if the convictions occur at the same time – as was the case with Owenby’s – they count as one conviction for federal sentencing purposes.
Owenby’s mother acted on her son’s desires and ascertained where Thompson lives, according to the federal prosecutor.
“Matt needs to realize he that he has a family that could disappear at any time,” Garrett told her son.
Owenby pleaded guilty earlier to threatening to harm a witness and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. In doing so, Owenby admitted he obtained 176,240 milligrams of oxycodone in a conspiracy headed by Cocke County octogenarian Ralph Teague.
The prison term Jordan gave Owenby was 14 months above the bottom-of-the-range sentence. He has been in custody since February on the oxycodone charge, and will be given credit for time already served.
Garrett is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 19. Her advisory guideline sentencing range is 51 to 63 months.
Her court-appointed attorney, William Lewis Ricker, is asking Jordan for a sentencing break Ricker represented this is Garrett’s first conviction and because of her advance age, she’d be unlikely to reoffend.
-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer