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ROANOKE — A 36-year-old Carroll County man snared in a drug trafficking conspiracy has pleaded guilty in federal court, but he reserves the right to argue down the amount of methamphetamine involved.
Jesse William Grayson got caught up in the same investigation that led to the conviction of Donald Scott Vaughan, who fled from a drug sting at Interstate 77's Exit 14 at high speeds across western Carroll County.
Investigators charged Grayson, Vaughan and two others with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, a schedule II drug.
Grayson was also charged with one count of meth distribution.
Originally scheduled for a two-day trial in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, Grayson instead opted to sign a plea agreement with the prosecutors Nov. 3, according to court papers.
He agreed to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge and the distribution of meth charge will be dropped.
A drug conspiracy charge carries with it a maximum penalty of a $4 million fine and life imprisonment. While a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison exists, those who sign a plea agreement rarely receive that amount of time.
Prosecutors often include reductions in a defendant's offense level, if they comply with the "obligations under this plea agreement and accept responsibility" for their criminal conduct.
Grayson and his attorney scratched out from the plea agreement the stipulation that the defendant had been dealing in more than 1.5 but less than 5 kilograms of meth.
"I am free to argue for a lesser drug weight," was written into the plea agreement.
In an hour-long court hearing, Judge Glen Conrad accepted Grayson's guilt plea, ordered a pre-sentencing report and scheduled the sentencing phase for Jan. 24.