Heroin conspiracy leader gets 18 years

HARRISONBURG — A leader in what law enforcement officials have described as a “massive” heroin dealing operation was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to 18 years in prison.

The sentence imposed on Kareem Allen Shaw, 39, formerly of Dumfries, came after a sprawling investigation and lengthy prosecution. Authorities say Shaw teamed up with Ronnie Maurice Jones, formerly of Front Royal, as the co-leaders of a drug conspiracy case that includes 13 defendants.

Jones has yet to be sentenced. A statement of facts filed after Jones pleaded guilty earlier this year says “the massive conspiracy to sell and distribute heroin and crack cocaine took place in the Woodstock area of the Western District of Virginia and the Dumfries and Stafford County area of the Eastern District of Virginia.”

Authorities say Shaw was in charge of distribution in Prince William and Stafford counties and Jones led operations that radiated out from the Woodstock area.

In a court document filed in November, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Wolthuis estimated that Shaw brought more than 20 kilograms of heroin, roughly the equivalent of 44 pounds, from New York City to Virginia during a period from spring of 2013 to January 2014.

In another court document, Wolthuis estimated that if the conspiracy involved the use and sale of 4 1⁄2 pounds of heroin “that would mean roughly 100,000 times somebody shot up heroin. The damage to brains, to persons, to families and to communities is simply inestimable.”

The 18-year sentence imposed on Shaw was the same as the prosecution’s request.

“This case was of hideous magnitude based on what this district is used to seeing,” Wolthuis told U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski during the sentencing hearing.
Shaw’s attorney, W. Andrew Harding of Harrisonburg, said his client disputed the 20 kilograms of heroin estimated by Wolthuis, but Harding did not try to downplay the overall magnitude of the case.

“I cannot deny the quantity of drugs involved,” Harding said. “This is the largest case I’ve ever handled before this court.”

Shaw told Urbanski he realized he had “made some bad choices and those choices have consequences.”

But, Shaw added, a long prison sentence would put a strain on his children.

“All I ask for is compassion,” Shaw said.

Two other defendants involved in the conspiracy were sentenced after Shaw.

Urbanski sentenced Ashton Grace Kern, 24, formerly of Stephens City, to 2 1⁄2 years in prison and ordered her to report to a residential drug treatment center in Mount Jackson for 1 1⁄2 years after she has completed her prison sentence. The 1 1⁄2 years at the treatment center is part of an overall term of three years supervised probation.

Arthur Sean Bailey, 39, of Annandale, was sentenced to six years in prison.

Bailey’s attorney, Edward H. Childress of Charlottesville, and Wolthuis agreed that Bailey’s active participation in the conspiracy was more intense but of shorter duration — from September 2013 to January 2014 — than most of the other defendants.

Childress said in a sentencing memorandum that Bailey “quit on his own volition and was not arrested for another six months.”

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