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Local News

May 13, 2007

Tennessee man receives probation in drug trafficking case

GREENVILLE — A Tennessee man, facing a possible life prison sentence if found guilty of transporting a large amount of cocaine and marijuana through Hunt County, has instead been placed on probation.

Tavaris J. Willis was also sentenced to a term in the Hunt County Jail after pleading guilty to two separate indictments and agreeing to testify against his alleged co-actor.

Willis, 19, of Union City, Tenn., entered the guilty pleas Friday during a hearing in the 196th District Court to one count of possession of between five and 50 pounds of marijuana and possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine.

Under a plea bargain arrangement, Willis was placed on 10 years of deferred adjudication probation in each case, with 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Deferred adjudication carries no finding of guilt, although those defendants who are found to have violated a deferred probation are subject to being sentenced to the maximum punishment.

Willis was facing a maximum sentence upon conviction of from 15 to 99 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $100,000 on the cocaine charge and a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison on the marijuana charge.

In exchange for the lenient sentence, Willis agreed to testify against Darrell C. Cummings, 19, of Sycamore, Ill., who was indicted last month on the same charges. A trial date has not yet been set in Cummings’ case.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the pair were in a vehicle pulled over on a traffic stop along Interstate 30 on Nov. 7, 2006. When asked questions by the DPS Trooper, Cummings, who was driving, claimed not to know Willis and vice versa.

A search of the vehicle reportedly turned up 11 pounds of marijuana and 672 grams (almost 1.5 pounds) of marijuana in the trunk.

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