Notorious Livingston Drug Dealer Convicted by Polk County Jury, LIVINGSTON,August 8, 2008- On August 7, 2008, a Polk County jury convicted one of Livingstonís most notorious drug dealers on a possession of cocaine charge. Joe Allen Lewis, 26, was charged with two counts of possession for offenses occurring on separate dates in 2007.
On August 28, 2007, officers executed a search warrant at the Ridgecrest Apartments on Mimosa Street. Joe Lewis, also known as "Thunder" or "Little Thunder," was asleep in his sisterís bedroom. Officers found ten crack cocaine rocks and a "quarter cookie" of crack cocaine in a dresser drawer in the bedroom. Both Lewis and his sister denied any knowledge of the drugs. At trial this week Lewis denied these drugs were his and was found not guilty by the jury.
On December 12, 2007 Livingston officers received information that Lewis and others were selling drugs out of a room at the Royal Inn on North Washington Street. An undercover informant was sent in and purchased five crack cocaine rocks for $100.00. Prior to the sale officers photocopied the bills, preserving a record of the serial numbers. A search warrant was obtained and a team of officers gathered to execute the search. Officers requested a room key from management of the Royal Inn, but as usual with this establishment, the request was denied. Before officers could make entry to the room, most of the drugs had been flushed down a toilet. After a thorough search of the room, a small quantity of cocaine was located along with about $1,500 in cash. None of the occupants of the room claimed any ownership of the crack. Mr. Lewis, however, admitted that the room was his as well as the cash. Unfortunately for Mr. Lewis the cash included some of the "buy" money provided to the informant by law enforcement. Mr. Lewis was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. For evidentiary reasons he was not charged with sale of the drugs. The jury found Lewis guilty of this charge.
After the guilty verdict, Judge Elizabeth Coker ordered a presentence report prepared and set a sentencing hearing for August 26, 2008. The amount of cocaine possessed normally carries a sentence of only 180 days to two years in state jail. However, at his sentencing Lewis will be subject to an increased sentence because of his past felony convictions. He has twice been sentenced to state jail for two years on previous cocaine charges, and was also previously sentenced to eight years in the penitentiary for a charge of Injury to a Child. In addition Polk County Juvenile Judge Stephen Phillips sentenced Lewis to the Texas Youth Commission in 1999 after Lewis committed multiple juvenile offenses, including Burglary of a Habitation. Lewis faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years on this current conviction.
In final argument Assistant District Attorney Joe Martin told the jury that they would not solve the problem of drugs in Polk County by this one verdict, but "...tonight when you lay down to sleep, you can, depending on your verdict, know that you have done your part." After the guilty verdict Martin expressed appreciation on behalf of the law enforcement community for the juryís verdict: "In the last year and a half we have sentenced a good number of the worst drug dealers in Polk County to prison. One case at a time we believe we can have a tremendous positive impact on this community. We certainly appreciate the seriousness with which these jurors addressed their duty."
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