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Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 3:02 p.m.
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Uncle 'hopeful' testimony in Delta Blues case nets reduced prison term

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published June 3, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.

The uncle of a Marianna man accused of distributing large quantities of cocaine in Lee and Phillips counties testified Tuesday that he is hopeful his cooperation with prosecutors results in his own prison term being reduced.

Alvin Long's testimony in the federal trial of Demetrius Colbert continued Tuesday with cross-examination from Colbert's attorney, Mark Hampton. The case is one of the last ones pending tied to Operation Delta Blues, a wide-scale investigation into drug-trafficking and corruption centered in east Arkansas.

The trial before U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. began Monday with the seating of a five-man, seven-woman jury and continued with direct questioning of Long, who said he helped his nephew, Colbert, get cocaine from two Mexican suppliers.

Long previously pleaded guilty to drug charges tied to the Delta Blues probe and was sentenced to about 9 years in prison. During questioning Tuesday from Hampton, he initially said he didn't believe there was a possibility his sentence could be reduced and that "no promises" had been made to him in exchange for his testimony for the government.

But Hampton later read Colbert a document he signed noting that prosecutors will make a motion for a "sentence reduction" if he provides "substantial assistance." Hampton then asked if Long is hopeful his cooperation will result in an earlier release date.

"Who wouldn't?" Long replied. "I would, yes ... I would be hopeful for any time."

In opening statements Monday, Hampton questioned the credibility of the government's witnesses and suggested their testimony would be motivated by deals to cut their prison terms, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Hampton on Tuesday also worked to pick apart Long's recounting of how he obtained and distributed the drugs, saying it wouldn't line up with key parts of Torrence Turner's expected testimony. Turner, also of Marianna, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after he admitted dealing more than 100 pounds of cocaine and may take the stand later in the ongoing trial.

Long said Tuesday that he distributed at least 200 kilograms of cocaine in total, though Hampton suggested Long inflated that figure as Colbert's trial drew nearer. Long insisted he was telling the truth and had made a decision to "own up" to the full extent of his activity.

"I'm ashamed of the whole situation," he said. "But I'm most ashamed of the quantity of drugs we were dealing. I couldn't face it."

Long testified that he didn't know and "didn't want to know" the names of the two Mexican men who supplied him with cocaine and that he didn't even have their numbers. But he subsequently acknowledged that he kept at least one of their numbers in his phone so Colbert wouldn't have to keep it in his.

Hampton countered that that setup didn't make sense since Colbert's phone would still show outgoing calls made to the number even if it wasn't saved in the device. But, Long said, that was the arrangement and it was prompted by fears that Colbert's wife would see the out-of-state numbers and accuse him of "infidelity."

"She always went through his phone," Long said. "You don't involve family in this sort of stuff."

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FarmBoy says... June 3, 2014 at 3:41 p.m.

30 years sounds about right

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