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Seventh suspect pleads guilty in Missouri marijuana ring

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

A Houston man pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday in connection with a marijuana drug ring based out of Missouri.

Richard Burgess pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri Central Division. Burgess worked with Craig Smith to sell weed across the country starting in August 2017, according to the plea agreement.

Smith allegedly sold marijuana through a co-conspirator to Augustus Roberts in Columbia. Roberts was shot and killed in December 2017 at his home in the Old Hawthorne subdivision. Police said the killing was drug-related.

Burgess and Smith reportedly "supplied each other with marijuana and shared delivery expenses related to the distribution of that marijuana."

Authorities found 1,846 pounds of marijuana in August 2018 near Cheyanne, Wyoming, that Burgess and Smith shipped from California, according to court documents. Part of the shipment was to be delivered to Kansas City, Missouri, to Burgess in Texas and other states.

In November 2018, authorities found about 3,523 pounds of marijuana and other THC products, some of which were sent to Burgess in Texas, court documents said.

The agreement noted multiple states where the marijuana was distributed, including Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Burgess marks at least the seventh person to plead guilty in connection with the case.

Blake Johnson of Columbia recently pleaded guilty, and had to give up his home in west Columbia as part of asset forfeiture.

Christopher Bradshaw pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it; Nader Robert Osama Yanis , 24, of Columbia, admitted to marijuana conspiracy; Osama Nadir Yanis, 49, of Columbia, admitted to being part of the conspiracy and having a gun in relation to a drug-trafficking crime; and Dylan James Blake, 29, of Columbia, admitted to using a cellphone as part of the conspiracy.

Burgess's attorney, Nathan Mays, said his client had nothing to do with Roberts' murder, and has never been to Missouri prior to these charges.

"His role was simply that of distributing marijuana in the Houston area," Mays said.

Byron Telford of Medford, Ore. also pleaded guilty in Missouri courts to aiding in racketeering. Telford's plea agreement said he worked with Smith to collect proceeds of the marijuana sales in Kansas City to drive back to Oregon.

(Editor's note, 12/12: An earlier version of the story said that Burgess was the sixth person to plead guilty in the case. He is the seventh.)

Columbia / Drugs / Missouri / News

Madison Fleck

Madison Fleck is the content editor for ABC 17 News.

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.

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