Crack ring defendant facing 10 year prison sentence

One of two remaining defendants in what the prosecution describes as a massive conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in and around Winchester will be sentenced to 10 years in prison if a federal judge accepts a plea agreement next week.

Court documents identify Ethan Edward Jackson, 26, as one of the leaders of a nine-member drug ring that operated for more than a year before authorities arrested the participants.

Jackson, along with Kareem Lomax Robinson, “distributed massive amounts of crack cocaine that they brought to the Winchester area” from Florida on a regular basis, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright.

Jackson has pleaded guilty to one count of selling 280 or more grams of crack as part of a plea bargain in which he agreed to accept a prison sentence of 10 years, the mandatory minimum specified in federal law.

Court documents describe a multi-state drug conspiracy led by Robinson and Jackson who shuttled between Florida and Winchester.

“It involved hundreds and indeed thousands of grams of crack,” Wright wrote in her sentencing memo. “It is one in a series of cases where high level co-conspirators have come from Florida to Winchester because selling drugs is more profitable for them in the Winchester area than at home.”

Wright added: “The conspiracy was notable for the large amount of crack cocaine that was distributed here from Florida – specifically from Mr. Robinson and Mr. Jackson – and for its highly effective involvement of both Winchester locals and Floridians traveling from Florida to make money here, among other facts.”

Jackson’s defense attorney, David Downes of Front Royal, stated in his sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday that his client was recruited by Jackson in Florida and brought to Winchester.

Jackson was arrested in May 2013 after law enforcement officials had conducted 14 controlled buys of crack with other members of the conspiracy but not with Jackson, according to Downes’ memo.

Court documents state that law enforcement seized more than 200 grams of crack from Robinson and Jackson.

Jackson and another co-defendant, Susan Ann Ruppenthal, are scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday. They are the last two of nine co-defendants in the conspiracy, the rest of whom have already been sentenced.

Wright is recommending a sentence of three years to three years and 10 months for Ruppenthal. Wright described Ruppenthal as having a lesser role in the conspiracy and providing “substantial assistance” to law enforcement officials in prosecuting other members of the drug ring and investigating other drug trafficking suspects.

Ruppenthal’s attorney, Sherwin John Jacobs, is asking that she be sentenced to two years in prison.

The other members of the conspiracy have received sentences ranging from 17 years to eight years.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com