Clay Co. minister to serve more than 16 years

LONDON — A longtime Clay County minister should serve more than 16 years in prison for helping launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The minister, Wayne Reid, 60, pleaded for a lighter sentence, but U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves said that, by supporting the county's debilitating drug problem, Reid had been a hypocrite.

"He's been preaching one thing and doing something else," Reeves said.

Reeves sentenced Reid to serve 194 months in prison. There is no parole in the federal prison system, though inmates can reduce their sentences through good behavior.

Reeves later sentenced Reid's wife, Donna, 59, to 188 months in prison, according to the court's Web site.

The sentences are the latest developments in federal investigations into drugs and corruption in Clay County in recent years. More than 40 people have been convicted, some of them prominent public figures and officials.

Reid, pastor of a Baptist Church at Burning Springs who also helped operate a children's home, and his wife were charged with scheming to conceal the illegal cash from a large marijuana-trafficking operation run by Larry Golden Jackson Jr.

They also allegedly helped conceal Jackson from authorities after he was indicted in 2002 and fled.

Wayne Reid, who also did excavating work and strip-mined coal, allegedly got hundreds of thousands of dollars from Jackson and laundered it by buying assets such as land, a convenience store and heavy equipment.

The Reids denied any involvement in illegal activity, but a jury convicted them. The jury also ordered the couple to forfeit about 120 acres of land and three houses and to pay the government $800,000.

Under advisory sentencing guidelines, Wayne Reid faced a sentence of 188 to 235 months. He wept quietly before his hearing Thursday in federal court in London.

His attorney, Gary Crabtree, said Reid had done good works in Clay County. He asked Reeves to consider a sentence outside the 188- to 235-month range for Reid, who has had heart problems and said he was having chest pains in court.

"The sentence in the guideline range will result in a death sentence" because of Reid's age and physical condition, Crabtree said.

In a lengthy, tearful plea, Reid also asked for a lighter sentence. He denied, again, that he had ever laundered any drug money and said that when he worked for Jackson and Eugene "Moose" Stewart, who was involved with Jackson in the drug business, he didn't know the cash they gave him was dirty.

Reid, who has been behind bars since he was convicted last September, said he felt like Daniel in the lion's den.

"I've done nothing to deserve this, and I know my wife's not," Reid said. "I've never hurt nobody in my life, just tried to help people. So I ask for mercy, Your Honor. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask for mercy."

But the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen C. Smith, said actions by Reid and his wife to launder money and hide Jackson helped further a very significant drug operation.

The Reids "lived lavishly" from their role in the conspiracy, Smith said, buying vehicles and land and equipment.

Reid also violated the position of trust and influence that a minister holds in a community, Smith said.

"I submit to the court this sentence should deter others," Smith said.

Reeves said jurors concluded Reid lied about his role in the drug conspiracy.

As for Reid's claim that he hadn't hurt anyone, Reeves said that wasn't true because drugs exacerbate poverty and other problems in Clay County.

"The court cannot agree with that representation," Reeves said.