By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
A Richmond business owner pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving a package of marijuana at his downtown tailor shop as part of a drug-selling scheme.
Darryl Ballard pleaded guilty to a charge of trafficking in marijuana (less than 5 pounds). Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith recommended a sentence of three years in prison diverted for two years provided Ballard has no further violations of law.
He also must serve 30 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine.
Ballard appeared to have second thoughts in Madison Circuit Court during his change-of-plea hearing. When asked by Judge Jean C. Logue if he was guilty of drug trafficking, he hesitated.
“Yes ma’am ... kind of, sort of,” Ballard said.
Investigators alleged that Ballard received boxes of marijuana through the postal service at his store. Postal workers intercepted one of the boxes and reported it to Richmond police. The box was delivered to the store, and William Minter, 55, was arrested after he picked it up Feb. 28.
Minter has already pleaded guilty to trafficking in marijuana and started serving a five-year sentence in January.
At Thursday’s hearing, Ballard initially claimed he did not know the box was coming until Minter called him the day it was delivered.
Assistant Common-wealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith disputed that, saying investigators were able to obtain phone records that indicated Ballard had called or been called by his marijuana “connection” in Lexington at least 59 times.
Ballard then said he received the boxes but did not know what was inside them.
“If someone sent you a box of marijuana, wouldn’t you be able to smell it?” Logue asked.
Ballard then admitted he had received three boxes, and he did open the first box to learn it was marijuana. He knew the subsequent boxes also contained illegal drugs, he said.
Ballard’s attorney asked the court to disregard Ballard’s comments about receiving three boxes since he was only pleading to one count of drug trafficking.
Ballard originally was charged with trafficking in more than 5 pounds of marijuana and could have received a maximum of 10 years in prison.
He is scheduled for sentencing 1:30 p.m. May 8.