15-year sentence for man convicted in White Center guns/drugs bust

Just in from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

A 35-year-old Auburn, Washington man was sentenced today to 15 years in prison and five years of supervised release for being an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition, and possession and distribution of cocaine base. MICHAEL PAUL GRADNEY, was identified and prosecuted as part of the 2011 ‘Hot Spot’ initiative designed to combat street crime in the White Center area of King County. GRADNEY was convicted in December 2012 after a five day jury trial. At sentencing today U.S. District Judge James L. Robart noted that GRADNEY lied when he testified during the trial and had “flagrant disregard for the law.”

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, GRADNEY sold cocaine to people working with law enforcement on two different occasions in September 2011. In October 2011, law enforcement witnessed GRADNEY making what appeared to be multiple hand to hand drug sales at a gas station and various bars in the White Center neighborhood. On October 13, 2011, officers searched GRADNEY’s Auburn residence and seized a Glock 10 mm pistol, a North American Arms 22 caliber revolver, ammunition for three different firearms, more than $25,000 in cash as well as cocaine and a scale with cocaine residue. GRADNEY is prohibited from possessing firearms because of his lengthy criminal history including five prior felony convictions for drug offenses.

The White Center ‘Hot Spot’ initiative targeted law enforcement resources in the White Center area from July to October 2011. The operation focused on illegal gun sales and drug dealing both on the street and in area businesses. In all approximately 50 people were arrested and law enforcement seized 68 guns, 51 lbs of methamphetamine, 2 lbs of crack cocaine and more than 10 lbs of powder cocaine.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The investigation was a coordinated joint effort by ATF, the King County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), the Seattle Police Department, the King County Metro Transit Police, Washington State Department of Corrections, Washington State Liquor Control Board and the Eastside Narcotics Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Dion and Seth Wilkinson.

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