Kennedy pleads guilty to drug charge

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Last defendant in drug conspiracy case has his day in federal court.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

ROANOKE — The last of several Twin County residents implicated in an illegal drug case pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.
With Kenneth Joe Kennedy signing a plea agreement in federal court, prosecutors have netted convictions against three Galax residents and two Hillsville men in 2010.

Though indicated on various drug-related charges, these five all entered pleas for the same charge — conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
The conspiracy, according to federal court documents, involved the distribution of more than 500 grams of a drug mixture containing meth.
The maximum penalty for this charge is a fine of up to $4 million and life in prison.
The mandatory minimum sentence for this charge is 10 years in prison, the court papers state.
Kennedy's charges would have been heard by a jury in federal court, but he requested a change in his plea for this one count.
"I am pleading guilty ... because I am in fact guilty and because I believe it is in my best interest to do so and not because of any threats or promises," the plea agreement states. "There has been no promise made whatsoever by any agent or employee of the United States to me as to what the final disposition of this matter will be.”
Kennedy in signing the document, acknowledges that there is a "substantial likelihood" that he will face a period of incarceration.
"I understand I will not be eligible for parole during any term of imprisonment imposed," the document states.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, a grand jury had indicted Kennedy on four charges of distribution of meth. Those charges will be dismissed if Kennedy complies with all obligations that he's committed to under the plea agreement, the court papers state.
Judge James Tuck accepted the plea of guilty.
A sentencing hearing has been set for Oct. 18.
Sentencing hearings also are pending for the others who entered guilty pleas in this case, including Michael Samuel Sawyers, Stephanie Nicole Bean Davis and Bobby Wayne Thompson Sr.