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ROANOKE — A Hillsville man guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in U.S. District Court will spend six years in a federal prison. Benjamin Lee Hancock, one of five locals convicted of a drug conspiracy charge, learned his fate at a sentencing hearing in Roanoke Oct. 14.
Hancock's attorney argued against the defendant's sentencing being impacted by a contempt of court conviction from Carroll County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, brought up in the pre-sentencing report.
The 2007 matter arose from Hancock being in arrears on child support payment $2,787. His attorney argued this was a civil matter and should not count against his client's federal sentence. Judge James Turk agreed, declining to enhance Hancock's penalty on the basis of the earlier court action.
Hancock qualified for the "safety valve" condition, meaning that he could serve less than the minimum prison sentence of 10 years, according to court papers.
Turk ruled that Hancock would serve 72 months in prison, recommending the federal facilities either in Butner, N.C., or Beckley, W.Va.
The judge also stated that Hancock should be allowed to participate in an "intensive drug treatment program." Hancock will have a 48-month term of supervised release after he gets out of prison.
After his release, he cannot own guns, ammunition or other destructive or dangerous weapons. Hancock's residence and his person will be subject to "warrantless search and seizure" to make sure he follows those terms.