A federal jury yesterday convicted three Virginians and acquitted a fourth of conspiring to manufacture and distribute the hallucenogenic drug PCP.
The U.S. District Court jury in Alexandria deliberated for nearly eight hours before reaching its verdict in the case, which included testimony that the four defendants were allegedly part of a larger drug ring operating in suburban Fairfax and Prince George's counties.
Convicted were Carlton W. Dodson Jr., 25, of rural Catharpin, Va., a self-described freelance motorcycle mechanic; his companion Debra G. Gearing, 27, and John W. Rhodes, 26, of Manassas Park. A fourth defendant, Ronald Baker of Manassas, was acquitted.
Dodson, who federal prosecutors charged was the operator of a PCP manufacturing laboratory in a house he shared with Gearing, was convicted on eight counts of violating federal drug laws. He faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison and more than $100,000 in fines.
The jury found Gearing guilty on two counts in the lengthy indictment -- conspiring to make and sell PCP and possession of piperidine, one of the drug's principal ingredients. Gearing could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Rhodes was convicted of conspiracy and faces a possible 10 years in prison. A fifth defendant, John Huggard, 27, Fredericksburg, pleaded guilty to the same charge on Monday.
Several others charged with participating in the PCP ring testified for the prosecution under plea bargaining arrangements.
Dodson was arrested Feb. 20 in his aunt's Gainesville restaurant after an investigation by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and police in Virginia and Maryland. Three weeks prior to his arrest, police had raided the house he was sharing with Gearing.
Prosecutors said the raid revealed several chemicals used in making PCP. They said drug enforcement agents also found six cartons of quart-size cans containing parsley, which is used in smoking "green" or Killer weed," as PCP is known.
Prosecutors also used as evidence a spoon "coated" with the drug, which they said was found in the raid.
Dodson was said in court testimony to have made trips to chemical companies in Canada to buy piperidine.
One admitted participant in the ring who later testified for the prosecution was Donald (john Wayne) Daly, a member of the Phantoms motorcycle gang based in Suitland. Daly said that he bought PCP from Dodson, who had done repair work for the Phantoms, and sold it in Prince Georges County.
Sentencing for Dodson, Gearing and Rhodes is set for Aug. 1.