A Little Rock man indicted as part of a drug trafficking organization in Central Arkansas received a minimum sentence of five years in prison Wednesday, pleading guilty to one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Teven Nolan-Loving, 31, of Little Rock, was indicted on drug conspiracy and distribution charges by a federal grand jury in October 2019, accused of being part of a drug trafficking conspiracy run by a Little Rock man, Monterrio Fuller. He pleaded guilty to the weapons count last August in exchange for the government's agreement to dismiss the remaining counts against him.
With his client facing a minimum statutory sentence of five years in prison with a possible sentence of life, Nolan-Loving's attorney, James Harry Phillips of Little Rock, told U.S. District Judge Brian Miller that during the time since his arrest Nolan-Loving had worked to rehabilitate himself and to seek a different path in life.
"Partly because of covid and partly for other reasons, this case has taken an extraordinary amount of time," Phillips said. "My client ... has availed himself of that time. He's not that fellow who was charged with these offenses. He's done extraordinarily well on pre-trial release."
Phillips said other than one relapse last June, after which he tested positive for marijuana use prior to a plea hearing that resulted in Nolan-Loving being jailed temporarily until the drug had cleared his system, his client had done well and complied with all of the terms of his pre-trial release.
"That was the result of a mentor of his who was killed, or died suddenly, I don't remember which, and that was the trigger," Phillips said. "He's aware of that now. He's self-aware of all of this."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Peters, who prosecuted the case, told Miller she was amenable to the statutory minimum term of five years in prison as a suitable sentence.
"The guideline range is five years and that's that," Peters said. "I don't think this is an upward variance case, and a downward variance is not possible. I know there's been some discussion about the role of the leader of this conspiracy who had a significant drug quantity and Mr. Fuller wound up with 60 months also."
Peters said that sentence had created some consternation with the defendant, whom she said had a lesser role but was facing the possibility of significantly more time in prison.
Despite his leadership role in the conspiracy, Fuller was sentenced to five years in prison in April.
"I explained to Mr. Phillips that the United States didn't agree to that sentence," she said. "That was, of course, the court's determination of a fair and just sentence for that defendant, who did not have the same criminal history as this defendant."
Nolan-Loving told Miller he had been working hard to overcome his substance abuse issues and had been doing well with the exception of the one relapse.
"I've been going through this for almost three years and I had a relapse last year when someone close to me was killed," he said. "Since then, I've known four more people that have been killed on these streets and it didn't occur to me to go back to drugs."
"The statutory sentence is five years to life and the guideline range is 60 months," Miller said. "So I'm going to order you to the Bureau of Prisons for 60 months."
Phillips asked that Nolan-Loving be allowed to self-report to prison to give him time to get his affairs in order, noting that he has been assisting his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer.
After checking the federal statutes and confirming that, absent extraordinary circumstances, immediate detention was mandatory, Miller ordered Nolan-Loving taken into custody.