SPRINGFIELD – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two West Plains, Mo., men have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana in Howell County, Mo.
Joseph R. Ledwa, 63, and David L. Collins, 38, both of West Plains, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Ledwa was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison without parole and must forfeit to the government $43,871 that was seized by law enforcement officers during the investigation, as well as 10 firearms and miscellaneous ammunition that were seized during the investigation. Collins was sentenced to eight years and four months in federal prison without parole and must forfeit to the government two rifles that were seized by law enforcement officers during the investigation.
Ledwa pleaded guilty on May 28, 2013, to his role in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana in Howell County from April 2009 to May 19, 2011. Ledwa also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of that drug-trafficking conspiracy, and two counts of illegally possessing firearms
According to Ledwa’s plea agreement, the total amount that the government can prove Ledwa distributed is at least 50 grams, but less than 150 grams of actual methamphetamine and at least 2.5 kilograms but less than five kilograms of marijuana.
Ledwa admitted that he was in possession of a Ruger .45-caliber pistol on Dec. 20, 2009, which he carried in order to protect himself while distributing methamphetamine and marijuana.
Ledwa also admitted that he was in possession of 11 firearms – including pistols, revolvers, shotguns and rifles – on Dec. 20, 2009. He was also in possession of a Saiga 7.62×39-caliber rifle on Aug. 13, 2010. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Ledwa has a prior felony conviction for robbery.
On Nov. 19, 2012, Collins pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy, to being a felon in possession of firearms and to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
Collins admitted that he initially received “eight ball” (3.5 grams) quantities of methamphetamine from Ledwa to distribute, but then began to receive larger amounts (seven to 14 grams). Within a couple of months, Collins was receiving one to four ounces of methamphetamine a week from Ledwa. During the conspiracy, Collins also received marijuana from Ledwa for distribution.
On two occasions, Collins admitted, he assisted Ledwa in obtaining methamphetamine from Ledwa’s source of supply. On both occasions the two traveled to pick up methamphetamine. On one occasion, Ledwa gave Collins $10,000 and Collins went to Kansas City and obtained 7.5 ounces of methamphetamine from one of Ledwa’s sources.
Collins also admitted that he was in possession of a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver on May 19, 2011. On this date, Collins was in possession of a distribution amount of methamphetamine and marijuana. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Collins’s residence the same day and found various controlled substances in the master bedroom, along with the revolver, which Collins admitted he had for protection.
Collins, who has a prior felony conviction, was also in possession of a Mossberg .22-calbier rifle and a Remington .22-caliber rifle on May 19, 2011.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the South Central Drug Task Force, the Howell County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, and the Grandview, Mo., Police Department.