In a federal crystal-meth prosecution that differs substantially from dozens of others in the Lakeway Area, Hawkins County resident William Steven Moore was sentenced to 70 months behind bars, 50 months fewer than the presumptive 10-year mandatory minimum for defendants who plead guilty to distributing more than 50 grams of meth, according to court documents.
Moore, 60, had no criminal history before he was linked to a multi-kilogram crystal-meth conspiracy by death and gun-related violence. Moore was holding 5 grams of crystal meth in July 2018 when deputies responded to an overdose death at his residence on Stanley Valley Road in Surgoinsville.
Two months later, a codefendant named Cody Bridgewater was arrested at Moore’s home after he shot another man in a drug-related dispute at a Rogersville motel, according to his plea agreement.
Moore was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1982 after serving four years, and later was employed by Boeing until he began receiving disability benefits. He did not start using methamphetamine until 2017, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Christian Lampe detailed in the prosecution sentencing memorandum.
The federal prosecutor characterizes Moore’s middle-age addiction as “devastating and sad.”
“One can look at the defendant as an example of what happens to the lives of people who become addicted to methamphetamine, and the defendant’s involvement in providing methamphetamine to others had an equally devastating effect on the users, their families and their community,” Lampe wrote in the sentencing memo.
In a federal crystal-meth prosecution that originated in Hamblen County involving another senior citizen, Charles “Unk” Slater, was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison this week. Slater, 54, was a relatively minor player in a high-volume conspiracy headed by Trinidad “Nit” Balderas Jr., who was sentenced to 135 months.
Slater, who also goes by the name “Charlie Pride,” has an extensive criminal history that spans over 40 years, but some of his convictions, including a 1978 felony conviction, did not result in a sentencing enhancement because they fall outside the federal “lookback period.”
Slater was holding 29 grams of crystal meth when he was arrested by Hamblen County Deputy David Barker. Slater was indicted for distributing more than 50 grams of meth, but federal prosecutors allowed him to plead to a 5-gram conspiracy.
Balderas, a 35-year-old convicted felon from Florida, and his girlfriend and codefendant Tawauna Boutwell, were holding 1.4 pounds of crystal meth, $24,000 in drug-sales proceeds, a Kel Tec 9mm pistol and two other firearms when Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators executed a search warrant at their White Oak Grove Road home in August 2019.