A man who led a drug ring that sold cocaine throughout Madison County and laundered the profits through his Richmond clothing store was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years and 10 months in federal prison.
Jakolbe “Kolbe Cheese” Chenault, 30, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to federal court documents. He admitted using his store, JaRu’s New Fashions, to launder proceeds from cocaine trafficking.
Nearly a dozen people also were arrested as part of the drug ring, and several of them offered investigators information about Chenault’s role in the conspiracy, court documents state. They all have since entered plea agreements and been sentenced to federal prison.
Others people convicted in connection with the Richmond drug-trafficking conspiracy and their sentences are: Ruben Catching (eight years, four months), Jermaine Carter (five years), Christina Thieleman (10 years), Bryan “Murder” L. Campbell (eight years) Shaquille “Quille” K. Williams (two years, three months), Da’Lance “L-Money” Roberts (10 years), Franklin “Nitty” Michael Floyd (one year and one day), Nikita “Youngster” M. Jenkins (11 years, six months) and James Phelps (two years, six months).
Lebruce Ellington, another member of the drug ring, also entered into a plea agreement but those court documents were sealed. Since then, Ellington has been indicted on state charges of conspiracy to murder in the killings of Sonsaray “Sonsi” Warford and Charles “Chew” Walker, whose bodies were found along in a Richmond field in March 2012.
Prior to his sentencing, Chenault said he wanted to apologize to the public and his family for what he did.
Several of Chenault’s family members attended the hearing in U.S. District Court in Lexington. Richmond police officers and special agents with the IRS and ATF who were a part of the investigation also were at the hearing.
“I would just ask for mercy, as much mercy as possible, your Honor,” Chenault said to U.S. Senior Judge Joseph M. Hood. “I’m sorry for my actions.”
Hood said he understood that Chenault had few role models growing up with an alcoholic and drug-addicted father. Chenault’s presentence report also revealed he had been doing drugs and drinking daily since he was 15, Hood said.
Chenault also did not graduate high school and later obtained a GED. He had worked jobs at Rally’s and Uncle Charlie’s Meat but “your livelihood was basically drug trafficking,” Hood said.
Although Chenault did not offer information to assist law enforcement in prosecuting the cases against his co-conspirators, he did admit his guilt and save the government the time and expense of a trial, Hood noted.
Federal guidelines set Chenault’s sentencing range at 292 to 365 months, but Hood said 250 months, or 20 years and 10 months, was appropriate.
Before Hood made his ruling, a hearing was conducted to consider defense attorneys’ objections to several of the factors that enhanced Chenault’s sentencing range. Hood ruled that the Chenault’s home in Louisville wasn’t being used primarily for drug manufacturing or distribution, but judge upheld the sentencing enhancements related to the firearm found in the home and Chenault’s leadership of the drug ring.
Chenault will be required to complete a substance abuse treatment program and also participate in educational and vocational activities while incarcerated, Hood ruled.
After his release, Chenault will have eight years of supervised probation, Hood said. All fines and community restitution were waived.
Chenault made a request through his attorney that he serve his time at the federal prison in Manchester. Hood said Chenault needed to be housed where he could complete a substance abuse treatment program, and Manchester might not be the best place for that.
Hood also noted at the end of the hearing that Chenault waived all his rights to appeal his case, according to the terms of the plea agreement.