A California resident was sentenced Tuesday in Juneau federal court for his role in a lucrative Sacramento-to-Juneau oxycontin ring that made millions of dollars from 2007 to 2011.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess sentenced Vail Barradois Thomas to serve 23 months in prison in accordance with a plea deal, prosecutors said. Thomas has already served that time, as he has been incarcerated since his February 2011 arrest.
Thomas, the half-brother of Milan Thomas, who is regarded as the drug conspiracy’s ringleader, was caught at the Seattle Tacoma airport carrying 185 oxycontin pills in June 2010. He pleaded guilty as charged to attempted possession with intent to distribute shortly thereafter, but his sentencing hearing was postponed until the trial of Richard Melvin Corum, 30, was complete.
Corum, of Sacramento and a reported gang member affiliated with Bloods, stood trial in Juneau earlier this summer and was convicted of a felony drug offense for being one of the drug ring’s main suppliers of oxycodone. He was originally slated to be sentenced this month, but his sentencing has been postponed to a later date.
At trial, federal prosecutors relied on four co-conspirators — the Thomas brothers, Corum’s cousin Lorenzo Darnell Williams Jr. and one of Milan Thomas’ girlfriends, Hilary Herndon — to testify against Corum in exchange for leniency at sentencing. The co-conspirators all testified they bought the pills from Corum and then they smuggled the pills (or used drug couriers to smuggle it) to Juneau to distribute. At its peak, the operation was making $2 million a year.
Prosecutors say 30 to 40 people from both Alaska and California have been arrested in connection to the drug ring over the past several years. It’s unknown what percentage or amount of the oxycontin pills in Juneau the group was providing, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt previously said supply has “dropped off drastically” since this conspiracy ended in January 2011.
Schmidt, who prosecuted the cases, said Vail Thomas is now being sent to California where he is charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection to a shooting that took place inside Corum’s residence on Sept. 12, 2010.
Milan Thomas is the only conspirator who testified against Corum left to be sentenced. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for January of next year.
Court records show Lorenzo Williams was sentenced in August to one year in prison and three years of supervised release, and Hilary Herndon was sentenced in September to 60 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.