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Crime

Two plead guilty in alleged deadly drug ring

Lasso Circle homicide
ABC 17 News
Columbia police investigate at a home in the 1900 block of Lasso Circle. Augustus "Gus" Roberts was killed at his home on Dec. 11, 2017.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

A man from Columbia and another from California pleaded guilty Tuesday in connection with what authorities have labeled a deadly marijuana-trafficking conspiracy.

Nawel Girma, 25, of Columbia and Cody Brent Davis, 31, of California, pleaded guilty in separate federal court appearances in Jefferson City, the U.S. attorney's office said in a news release.

Girma pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to sell marijuana and a count of being a drug user with a gun. Davis pleaded guilty to one count of selling marijuana and a count of conspiracy to launder money.

Girma admitted in his plea agreement to conspiring with Augustus Roberts, Blake Jeffrey Johnson, both of Columbia, and others to sell marijuana between Oct. 1, 2016 and March 15, 2018, the federal prosecutor's office said.

Roberts was found dead at home in December 2017 and a U-Haul containing about 800 pounds of marijuana was stolen from his driveway. Police found the truck the next day and later found drugs and money in Girma's home, according to the news release.

Girma's attorney, John Schleiffarth of St. Louis, said Girma is a "hard working college student that became involved with the wrong people." He said Girma was a college student at the time of the crimes took place, but did not specify which college.

Girma agreed to forfeit more than $130,000 law enforcement found during a search of his apartment and a storage unit in 2018. Girma will also surrender a 2014 Maserati Ghibli as part of his plea.

Davis admitted to being part of the scheme from Jan. 1, 2017 to Feb. 8, 2019, and to leading a conspiracy to sell marijuana from California and Oregon to locations around the country, federal prosecutors said. Roberts was one of his clients, according to the release.

Davis received more than $1 million through the sales and admitted that he and others laundered more than $3.5 million, the U.S. attorney's office said. Davis worked with Kurt Petersen, another Californian that pleaded guilty last year to similar crimes in Missouri, to launder the money.

Davis's attorney, Brian Gurwitz, told ABC 17 News that Davis looked forward to putting this behind him.

Neither Girma nor Davis had any involvement with the killing of Roberts, according to their respective attorneys.

Federal authorities believe the duo "merged" marijuana-selling operations with Craig Smith of Oregon to distribute the product to more than a dozen states. Smith has pleaded not guilty.

Davis faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 60 years. Girma could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Sentencing hearings have not been set.

Federal grand juries have indicted multiple defendants from several states in connection with the conspiracy.

Columbia / Court and Trials / Drugs / News / Top Stories
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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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