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Leader of Alaska-Nevada drug ring sentenced to 15 years

Ghafouria gets 15 years, was last of 27 charged including Peninsula locals

Posted: January 3, 2013 - 8:48pm

A Las Vegas man who operated a drug trafficking organization that shipped prescription drugs from Nevada to Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison.

Nicholas Ghafouria pleaded guilty to conspiracy, drug and money laundering charges. The 28-year-old laundered more than $1 million through bank accounts in Las Vegas, according to a Department of Justice District of Nevada press release. His sentencing comes three months after the prosecution offered Ghafouria a plea deal, which included the 15-year sentence and the forfeiture of $1.2 million in cash and property.

He was the last of 27 defendants charged in the scheme. Seventeen of those defendants were from the Kenai Peninsula. All of the defendants pleaded guilty and received prison sentences, according to the press release.

The Alaska residents were originally arrested back in 2010. Twenty-five of the defendants are charged with money laundering conspiracy, and 14 of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone.

The Alaska defendants are Frankie Dupuis, 30, Soldotna; Cathleen Eugenia Renney, 54, Sterling; John Covich, 29, Kenai; Anthony Diaz, 20, Kenai; Cinthia Morgan Spoonts, 26, Soldotna; Shannon Walker, 49, Soldotna; Melissa Cue, 33, Kenai; Jon Horsley, 22, Soldotna; Harley Rice, 30, Soldotna; Jonathan Gattenby, 27, Soldotna; Jodaci Vogel, 31, Soldotna; Kevin Gonzales, 48, Soldotna; John Skoog, 29, Wasilla; Ernest Gallagher, 36, Kenai; BJ Griffith, 21, Anchor Point; Daniel Stevens Hall, 27, Kenai; Trevor Cunningham, 26, Soldotna; Alfred Jones, 47, Kenai; and Shawn Newkirk, 43, Anchorage.

Jones, one of the aforementioned defendants, is also facing a second-degree murder charge for his involvement in a fatal 2010 Memorial Day weekend crash on the Sterling Highway between Homer and Anchor Point. Jones drove a GMC pickup truck that hit a Subaru Forester, killing a passenger, Kathleen Benz, 25, of Washington, D.C.

In charging documents, a Bureau of Highway Patrol trooper, Casey Hershberger, alleged that a blood draw of Jones tested positive for methamphetamines, Oxycodone, cocaine and marijuana.

Ghafouria admitted in his plea agreement that between May 2009 and Oct. 30, 2010, he conspired with others to distribute thousands of Oxycodone pills in Alaska. He also admitted to using multiple methods to get the drugs north. For example, he packaged drugs and used couriers on airplane flights.

He sold the pills to his co-conspirators for $65 per pill, and the co-conspirators paid for the pills either by giving money to the couriers or depositing money into bank accounts in Alaska; the money was withdrawn in Nevada under Ghafouria’s direction.

The investigation was the effort of many law enforcement agencies, including the Alaska State Troopers and the Soldotna and Kenai Police Departments.

“Over the last several years, we have been working with state and local law enforcement and health care providers to attack the growing prescription drug abuse problem in Nevada,” said Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, in the press release. “Since January 2010, over 100 individuals, including four doctors and a pharmacist, have been charged in Nevada with unlawfully distributing highly addictive prescription painkillers.”

The Peninsula’s law enforcement officials have also worked to reduce the availability of opiates during 2012, they said in recent interviews with the Clarion. Doctors at Central Peninsula Hospital took steps to reduce the availability of prescription drugs, as well. No local doctors have been charged with distributing painkillers.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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Norseman
3616
Points
Norseman 01/06/13 - 07:06 am
1
0
..."The Alaska defendants are

..."The Alaska defendants are Frankie Dupuis, 30, Soldotna; Cathleen Eugenia Renney, 54, Sterling; John Covich, 29, Kenai; Anthony Diaz, 20, Kenai; Cinthia Morgan Spoonts, 26, Soldotna; Shannon Walker, 49, Soldotna; Melissa Cue, 33, Kenai; Jon Horsley, 22, Soldotna; Harley Rice, 30, Soldotna; Jonathan Gattenby, 27, Soldotna; Jodaci Vogel, 31, Soldotna; Kevin Gonzales, 48, Soldotna; John Skoog, 29, Wasilla; Ernest Gallagher, 36, Kenai; BJ Griffith, 21, Anchor Point; Daniel Stevens Hall, 27, Kenai; Trevor Cunningham, 26, Soldotna; Alfred Jones, 47, Kenai; and Shawn Newkirk, 43, Anchorage...."

Look at all of the names that are from our area. Our community could have been on top of this much faster if people would report drug activity instead of just looking the other way. It is time for all citizens to call these scumbag drug dealers out and get them where they belong, which is behind bars.
Remeber these names, we will probably be hearing them again.

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 01/06/13 - 10:45 am
0
1
How far does this list go?

I can see that this is a gr8 idea in this area of life in order to protect lives from evil people who desire to accumulate wealth & power at the expence of others. My question is how far does this reporting go and what are the guide lines of determining who is a threat or scumbag to society or our community?
I see nonstop crys and reporting of my posts, ideals by many and who consider what i say as a threat to freedom from religion, while they themselves actually espouse their own religion of man. All manmade religions are ok and can be freely espoused, but, when Jesus is brought into the mix, then the messanger must be silenced at all costs and reported to all athourities to try and stop this onslote against our society and community, even world.
Just wonder where the line is and who is on the right or wrong side and just who determines those sides? The list is endless as to who should be reported and it's usually not evil wicked sinners that are the primary ones reported due to the lack of True justice or judgments against such. When the worlds systems are geared for evil to prosper and flurish at every turn for power and wealth desired by all most everyone, then make no mistake EVIL WILL HELP PROMOTE & PROTECT FELLOW EVIL. I agree report evil activity and Stand up to fight against it's spread, but, realize this that in that Self Rightious Fight with your own rules or ideals of whats Good or Evil, you'll be fighting against both Good and Evil in this worlds systems. Systems ment to destroy everyone thats human no matter race color religion or creed, a system thats helping none for very long if ever.
So who decides who is Good or Evil and should be reported and stopped there Norseman, in this self rightious fight your waging against almost everyone here on the Clarion from christians to militia to drinkers or druggies or GOP party members? You don't like any of the above and complain that we have to pay $65,000 a yr per person to lock them away, yet you want more of those you decide are evil and must be reported locked up?
Tell us all please, WHO do we report to the AUTHORITIES and WHERE does the list stop when at every turn or election we see more evil & drug use being legalized or deemed acceptable life styles? Many lists already exist of whats acceptable or not, one True list with many altered manmade ones. The True Rightious list is rejected, while all the manmade Unrightious lists are accepted.

1) druggies
2) drunks
3) militia
4)christians = Radical Jesus Freaks
5) republicans
6) nonvoters
7) everyone you have deemed unacceptable in your world

WHO is on that list of scumbags?

Just maybe some will wake up and smell the sulfur of hell before it's to late and repent by having a Fundamental Change and Hope to Believe in that replaces their old fundamentals hopes and beliefs as the go Foreward. Just maybe, as some do and some don't wake up and accept the ONLY True Way and ONLY Hope for a lasting Fundamental Change to believe in.
REPORT THIS!

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