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Posted December 18, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Drug defendant cites mental, physical ailments in seeking leniency

By Joe Beck

The lawyer for one of eight defendants in a Winchester drug ring has written a sentencing memorandum listing serious mental and physical illnesses as key reasons for granting his client leniency.

David Allen Shifflett, 53, has been plagued throughout his life by bipolar disorder and personality disorder, R. Darren Bostic wrote. Shifflett is facing a sentence in U.S. District Court that could reach nearly nine years in prison, but Bostic is asking Judge Michael Urbanski for two to three years.

In a separate memo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Grayson Hoffman agreed that Shifflett deserved leniency for "substantial assistance" he gave to the prosecution. Shifflett was one of several defendants who testified against ring members during a nine-day trial in late October and early November.

Shifflett's role in the conspiracy was to provide a home from which the other members of the ring could conduct as many as 100 sales a day of crack cocaine from May 2009 to February 2012, according to court documents.

"Counsel has often heard different judges referring to addicts as having been 'victimized' to a certain extent by those who promote and sell cocaine base or crack cocaine to them," Bostic wrote. "This exactly describes Mr. Shifflett in an overall view of this case.

"He was sought out by the drug dealers that manufactured, packaged and sold crack cocaine in Winchester."

Bostic said Shifflett's only income came from a government disability check and "he was not a seller and did not have the income to purchase the drugs on a daily basis."

Instead, Bostic said, Shifflett agreed to let the other members of the ring sell out of two residences in exchange for free crack cocaine.

Bostic described Shifflett as the survivor of a "difficult" upbringing that involved a broken home and physical and mental abuse.

"Such physical abuse went so far as being hit in the head with a wrench," Bostic wrote, adding that his client was later diagnosed with a learning disability, bipolar disorder and personality disorder.

Bostic also listed "extensive" health problems besetting Shifflett, including drug addiction and a heart attack.

"His drug addiction and mental illness have almost certainly had a deleterious effect on his health," Bostic said.

Bostic said his client has had no felony convictions since 1989, although his record does include possession of marijuana and offenses linked to domestic relations in 2007. He was also convicted of robbery charges in 1981, according to Bostic.

"Counsel submits it is very unlikely that Mr. Shifflett will again become involved in using crack cocaine or allowing others to sell from his residence," Bostic wrote. "For the first time in many years, due to his incarceration, Mr. Shifflett has been able to break free from the drug scene and has been properly medicated for both his mental and physical problems."

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

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