Two off to jail

Published 12:03 am Thursday, July 19, 2007

NATCHEZ — Two men who admitted possession of 690 grams of cocaine were sentenced Wednesday to more than 10 years in prison.

Willie Dawson II, 30, 137 Lewis Drive, and Lawrence Oliver Mason, 33, 118 Aldridge St., pleaded guilty Monday to charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Sheriff’s deputies raided a house on Bishop Street in August and found the 690 grams of powder cocaine, 32.8 grams of crack cocaine and nearly $3,000 in cash.

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At first, Dawson had little to say to the judge.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Dawson said.

His uncle, the Rev. Freddie Dawson, asked Johnson to be merciful.

“We would like you to give us a chance of having him back again and being back in our family,” he said.

When Circuit Judge Forest “Al” Johnson asked Willie Dawson for further comment, he mumbled a little.

“He has a hard time expressing himself at times,” attorney Scott Pintard said. “It’s my belief he’s sorry for his actions.”

Dawson had a history of felonies, Johnson said, and he wanted to hear from the defendant.

“You’ve been before the system over and over again,” Johnson said. “What is it going to take before something gets across to you? People in this community are tired of drugs.

“And 690 grams of cocaine is the most I’ve ever seen come before the court. So, excuse me if I expected to hear a little more up here today.”

Johnson sentenced Dawson to serve 20 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and 10 years probation. He also sentenced him to pay a $10,000 fine.

Mason, who showed up late to the sentencing, had only one prior felony conviction, Johnson said.

Johnson sentenced Mason to serve 15 years in the department of corrections and 10 years on probation. He also must pay a $5,000 fine.

“Please, I’m asking, begging you to have mercy on me. I’ve got a wife and four kids. They depend on me daily.”

Mason asked that Johnson give him probation instead of jail time.

“If I ever come before you again, I’d accept anything you give me,” he said.

Johnson sentenced Mason to serve 15 years in the department of corrections and 10 years on probation. He also must pay a $5,000 fine.

After Johnson announced the sentence, Mason begged him to reconsider.

“Please don’t do me like this,” he said.

Johnson said he was sorry but he made his decision.

Mason’s wife, Youmenca Mason, said she thought the decision was unfair.

“It wasn’t his (drugs),” she said. “He smoked dope. He don’t deal dope.”

Metro Narcotics Commander Cliff Cox said the third man found at the house that day was being “strong-armed” into letting the men use his house.

“They had an assembly line set up,” Cox said. “They were turning powder cocaine into crack. For (the judge) to say this was the most he’d seen come before him, that means a lot.”