The lanky figure dressed in a striped jail jumper stood before a federal judge Monday afternoon.
At times wiping away tears, 34-year-old Trown Davis may not have looked the part of someone who once helped orchestrate an illicit and dangerous drug ring that afflicted Charleston for about four years.
After hearing from investigators, prosecutors and Davis himself, District Judge Patrick Duffy sentenced him to a little more than three years in prison, taking his cooperation and assistance in toppling the network into consideration.
Starting around 2007, Davis supplied heroin to distributors on the West Side of Charleston while living in New York City and continued the supply chain after he moved to South Carolina, according to court documents.
He got the drugs from a Dominican gang in New York and he’d transport them to the Holy City, prosecutors said. His last trip ended his escapades when federal investigators reined in on the operation that they’d been monitoring closely through phone taps and undercover work.
A S.C. Highway Patrol trooper, in cooperation with federal investigators, pulled Davis over on Interstate 26 on May 15, 2011. Inside a secret compartment Davis had installed in the floor of his sport utility vehicle, authorities found 10,000 bags of heroin, worth about $200,000 if sold on the street.
Over those few years, the drug network had created a world of violence, which included the August 2010 murder of Jamar Gathers, one of the drug distributors who worked out of Bridgeview Village apartments on North Romney Street, investigators said. Davis was not involved in Gathers’ murder, but he supplied the drugs that allowed the network to exist, he admitted.
“He was what made that conspiracy possible,” his attorney, Bob Haley, said in court. But he also helped bring it down, he added.
Davis, “from the moment he was arrested, began cooperating,” Haley said.
Davis took his moment to address the court. “I apologize to the victims affected due to my greed and selfishness,” he said.
He referred to himself as inconsiderate and immoral for his actions, but told the judge he is now a changed man. Duffy called the case an unusual one. He cited how the “prototype” defendant in cases like this one comes from a broken home, with no family support, few opportunities and a borderline IQ. Davis stood there with almost three rows of family, friends and supporters. He has a college degree from State University of New York.
“How in the world do you throw that away?” asked Duffy.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.