Meth dealer sentenced to 154 months

Hamblen County methamphetamine dealer Ashley Jones, who in 13 years garnered enough convictions to place her in the highest federal criminal-history category, was sentenced to 154 months in prison Monday, 34 months fewer than the guidelines-range sentence recommended by a federal prosecutor, according to court documents.

Jones, 35, who is atypical inasmuch as she was indicted by herself, pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, but she accepted responsibility for trafficking between 51 and 500 grams.

She has been in federal custody since late January 2019.

Jones’ attorney, Nikki Pierce, a federal public defender, represented in the sentencing memorandum that her client is “a poster child for the opiate-based epidemic.” Pierce also represented that the high-level, meth-trafficking charge was Jones’ first drug offense.

“Having suffered personal circumstances and three knee surgeries during her college softball career, she quickly became addicted to pain medication and other drugs, which eventually led to theft and other crimes driven by her addition,” the defense sentencing memo states.

Law enforcement officials made their case against Jones by getting information from confidential informants and flipping people who were stopped after leaving Jones’ apartment in Morristown, according to her plea agreement.

Narcotics investigators began staking out her residence after a confidential informant reported seeing a half-pound of methamphetamine there.

Four of Jones’ customers agreed to cooperate after they were caught with crystal meth after leaving Jones’ apartment, according to her plea agreement.

One informant accompanied Jones on a meth run to Knoxville to buy a pound of crystal meth from a man she called “Boss-man.” Jones’ prior convictions include burglary, theft and forgery. Following her release, she violated her probation or parole multiple times.

Once, while incarcerated in Jefferson County, she was convicted of inciting a riot, according to her plea agreement.

In an unrelated federal prosecution that originated in Jefferson County, Sonya Leah McCarter, 43, indicated Monday she will plead guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

McCarter, who also goes by the name Sonya Robertson Chesson, was 21 years old when she was convicted in Virginia of indecent liberties with a minor, an offense analogous to aggravated sexual battery, according to the plea agreement.

Detective David Norton with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department received permission to search McCarter’s Antler Ridge Road in New Market when he conducted a registered sex offender compliance check in November 2018.

In her bedroom, authorities found a loaded .357-caliber handgun and 47 rounds of ammunition, according to the plea agreement.