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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News

  • Man sentenced in drug ring
  • Three charged in tag scheme
  • Page wants money for Goodyear


Man sentenced in drug ring 

A member of a Cedartown Georgia  drug ring  who “shot-up” the home of someone who owed money has been sentenced to more than 18 years in prison.  Claude Wayne Cole Jr. of Centre, Ala., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy to serve the minimum sentence for his part in a massive drug conspiracy that federal authorities say distributed thousands of pounds of methamphetamine in Northwest Georgia and Eastern Alabama between 2001 through 2004. Cole was designated as a minor participant in the gang and given substantial credit for “truly and candidly” cooperating with the government, according to judge Murphy.

However, firing a gun into a residence in commission of a drug crime carries a mandatory 10-year sentence to be served consecutively with other sentences.

Cole was sentenced to 10 years for that crime and just more than eight years for his part in the conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine.

Murphy significantly reduced Cole’s sentence as his cooperation had not just brought others to justice but helped an Alabama Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigation free an innocent man from serious firearms charges.

Murphy added to the sentence the request that Cole be sent to prison in Alabama so his family could visit him more easily.

Cole could have faced as long as 27½ years in prison and been fined $4.25 million.  



Three charged in Tag scheme 

St. Clair Circuit Judge Jim Hill reduced bond on three women being held on charges that they used false information to illegally obtain car tags for other people, including some illegal aliens.

Bond for Vivien Mondragon, 36, was reduced from $1 million to $250,000, while bond for Aurora Briones and a 19-year-old woman was reduced from $250,000 to $50,000. The three are being held in Pell City.

St. Clair District Attorney Richard Minor said Hill also placed conditions on the three women not to leave the state nor communicate with each other. Hill requested the district attorney's office not release the name of the 19-year-old.

A St. Clair County grand jury indicted the three Feb. 16 following an investigation that began in fall 2005, Minor said. Mondragon faces 30 felony counts, 20 for using false information and 10 aiding and abetting charges.

Briones faces 15 felony counts, while the 19-year-old faces 18 felony counts. The three were arrested last week.

Prosecutors believe the three used false information to obtain thousands of car tags for people who did not live in St. Clair County, some of them illegal aliens. William Thornton


Page wants money for Goodyear

State Rep. Jack Page of Gadsden sought more financial support Tuesday from Gov. Bob Riley for Goodyear in Gadsden in exchange for Etowah County’s legislative support for state incentives to a German steel company.  Page, who is vice chairman of the House Government Appropriations Committee, tried to amend Riley’s $750 million economic incentive bill designed to lure German steel maker ThyssenKrupp to the Mobile area.  Page wanted $30 million more bonding authority for Goodyear’s modernization needs.
He withdrew his amendment after committee Chairman John Knight, of Montgomery, promised to support Page during the regular legislative session that begins March 6.  Local officials and the Riley administration are negotiating the state and local governments’ share of the Goodyear package of incentives promised the company to help it modernize and save 1,400 jobs.

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