John Alvarez, 45 of Rossville, was sentenced to 21 years, 10 months in prison and six years of supervised release in U.S. District Court in Rome on Friday. He pleaded guilty in August on federal narcotics and money laundering charges for his part of the conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors characterized Alvarez as a leader in the conspiracy and asked U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy to impose a stiff sentence. Alvarez's attorney denied this allegation.
“Alvarez is the leader of this 13-person conspiracy to distribute oxycodone in the Northwest Georgia area,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brock Brockington told the court.
Alvarez set the prices for the painkillers as well as set up and funded out-of-state trips to pain clinics to procure the pills, Brockington contended. He, along with others, would then reinvest the proceeds from pill sales to fund future drug trips.
Alvarez’s attorney, Vionnette Reyes Johnson, contended that wiretap evidence showed Alvarez was addicted to the pills. He even had to pay an increased street value when purchasing drugs from other members of the conspiracy when his stash ran out, she said.
Murphy ruled that Alvarez was not a leader necessarily but did hold a supervisory role in the conspiracy — which calls for a slightly less harsh set of sentencing guidelines than for the leadership designation.
The criminal cases of the others involved in the conspiracy are in varying states of resolution.