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By NATE GARTRELL | firstname.lastname@example.org |
PUBLISHED: March 19, 2017 at 4:42 pm | UPDATED: March 20, 2017 at 5:43 am
OAKLAND — DEA agents followed the alleged leaders of a “significant” methamphetamine trafficking ring for nearly a year before arresting them, conducting a series of undercover buys and tracking them around the Bay Area.
Last week, U.S. attorneys released documents detailing a 10-month investigation into Bay Area residents Donnie Phillips, Phyllis Mosher and Gordon Miller, charged with trafficking methamphetamine in Solano and Contra Costa counties. They describe Phillips as a former meth cook who supplied the drug to members of the Hells’ Angels, and make note that Phillips’ son, Coby Phillips, co-founded a local street gang known as the Family Affiliated Irish Mafia, or FAIM.
They allege that a confidential informant told authorities in 2014 that while Coby Phillips was awaiting then-unresolved murder charges in the slaying of an Aryan Brotherhood drug dealer, Donnie Phillips began supplying FAIM members with meth. Except for a brief period, Coby Phillips has been in custody since 2005, when he was arrested — and ultimately convicted — for his role in another drug ring, which is estimated to have generated several hundred thousand dollars in profits annually.
DEA agents say Mosher, meanwhile, was the bartender of My Office Bar in Vallejo, the scene of a fatal shooting in 2007 that resulted in a messy murder case. The defendant, a FAIM associate, was convicted in 2013 after being tried and having a hung jury three times in a row.
The DEA began investigating Phillips, Mosher and Miller after two unnamed confidential sources implicated them in meth trafficking. One of the informants has since died, according to the documents.
The documents say DEA agents followed Phillips and Mosher, setting up surveillance at Mosher’s Benicia residence. They say Mosher would frequent the My Office Bar, as well as a Vallejo church, around the same time as she was setting up drug deals with an undercover agent. It was later revealed, through interviews with church personnel, that members of the church had suspected drug trafficking may be taking place at the location.
The documents say that undercover agents set up meth buys starting in June 2014 and April 2015. Phillips and Mosher were arrested in April 2015, after undercover agents arranged to buy six pounds of meth for a negotiated price of $30,000. Agents searched the trunk of Phillips’ Cadillac — a search Phillips’ lawyers say was illegal — and found several pounds of meth, according to the DEA.
The DEA says roughly $45,000 in cash, 10 pounds of meth and 11 guns were seized during the operation. In one of Phillips’ vehicles, agents also found a copy of a videotape featuring civil rights attorney Tony Serra, entitled “To Snitch or not to Snitch,” in which the lawyer says he would tell his own son not to become an informant even if it meant going to prison for 20 years.
During one of the buys, which allegedly occurred at the My Office Bar, an undercover agent was outfitted with a recording device. There, it is alleged the agent bought 1.25 pounds of meth from Mosher for around $5,400. Miller and Phillips were seen meeting later in the day, in Byron, according to a DEA agent’s report.
This is not the first time the My Office Bar has come up in a criminal investigation. In 2007, an innocent bystander was shot and killed at the bar. The target of the shooting, authorities said, was Thomas Covey, a FAIM co-founder who had a falling out with Coby Phillips and his wife.
Joseph William Verducci, a FAIM associate, was tried four times and eventually convicted of murder in connection with the slaying. Court documents say Coby Phillips’ wife, Stacey Phillips, threatened to send Verducci to Covey after seeing him at the bar shortly before, and that Coby Phillips and Covey had threatened to kill each other numerous times before that.
Covey eventually dropped out of the gang and began cooperating with authorities. Verducci is appealing his case.
Coby Phillips, meanwhile, was convicted of murder last year, after a 2013 mistrial. He is facing seven life sentences but is also planning to appeal his case.
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