Lewis Sentenced to 15 Years by Judge Coker, LIVINGSTON, September 3, 2008 - Joe Allen Lewis was sentenced to 15 years in Texas Department of Corrections on September 2, 2008 for cocaine charges. The 15 year sentence was handed down by Judge Elizabeth Coker of the 258th District Court. Lewis, a known cocaine dealer, was found guilty by a Polk County Jury on August 7th for possession of cocaine. The following is a press release from the Polk County Criminal District Attorney's Office:
Joe Allen Lewis, a 26 year old Livingston cocaine dealer, was sentenced today to 15 years in prison by Judge Elizabeth Coker. Lewis was found guilty of possession of cocaine by a jury in a trial on August 7.
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.
Lewis has an involved past with the criminal justice system. He was first placed on juvenile probation at the age of 13 for Burglary of a Habitation. Lewis violated that probation by committing another Burglary of a Habitation, a Burglary of a Motor Vehicle and an Assault. He was then sentenced to the Texas Youth Commission.
In 1998, at the age of 16, Lewis was again sentenced to the Texas Youth Commission after robbing a woman of her purse and threatening a person who came to her aid. Nevertheless, Lewis was shortly released by the Texas Youth Commission and by late summer of 2000 had committed two charges of Possession of Cocaine and an additional charge of Injury to a Child. Lewis was granted adult probation on these charges. In early 2000 his probation was revoked and Lewis was sentenced to two years State Jail on the drug charges and eight years in the penitentiary on the Injury to a Child.
Lewis was released from prison on April 26, 2007. On August 28, 2007 he was arrested at his sister’s apartment where officers found a quantity of cocaine in the room in which Lewis was sleeping. Lewis was found not guilty of this charge by the jury on August 7. His sister has since pled guilty to the possession.
Lewis testified on his own behalf at the sentencing hearing. He claimed that since release from the penitentiary he had formed his own community group to try to encourage others to stay off drugs. However, Lewis, under prosecution questioning could not name any other community leaders who were working with him, and declined to name the individuals he was helping.
Lewis claimed that he has never used cocaine, but admitted that he has sold cocaine in the past. Lewis maintained his innocence of the present charge while agreeing that he knew the other two men in the Royal Inn room were drug dealers. In explaining why the “buy money” was found in his pants, Lewis claimed that he had earned the money from a legitimate job. He said he sold the pants to one of the drug dealers and later realized he had left the money in the pants. He coincidentally went to the Royal Inn to retrieve his money at the same time that officers executed a search warrant. He believed that the drug dealer had mixed the “buy money” in with his money. Lewis had no explanation for why he took his six year old son to a place where drugs were sold.
At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing Judge Coker quickly sentenced Lewis to 15 years, five years less than the maximum sentence for the offense.
-- end of press release --
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