PROVIDENCE – A mother today admitted to a federal court judge that she participated in a drug trafficking conspiracy run by her son while he was incarcerated in the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI). The son, with the mother’s assistance, directed drug dealers to sell crack cocaine to people outside of the prison.
According to court documents, on January 22, 2018, during an investigation of the drug trafficking activities of Pawtucket residents James Gomes, 33, and his mother, Lisa Ellis, 52, police executed a court-authorized search of Ellis’ residence and arrested both Ellis and Gomes. Ellis at the time told police she knew her son was dealing crack cocaine and admitted that she assisted on at least one occasion. Ellis and Gomes were charged with drug trafficking offenses in Rhode Island state court. Gomes was detained at the ACI, while Ellis was released on bail. According to court documents, Gomes continued dealing crack cocaine from inside the prison, with his mother’s assistance.
Appearing today in federal court, Ellis admitted that she acted as point-of-contact for her son as he executed a scheme from inside the prison to have crack cocaine delivered to prospective buyers outside of prison. Ellis admitted that on her receiving her son’s calls from the ACI, she conferenced in his associates on her cell phone, who were then directed by Gomes to make crack cocaine sales, specifying customer, quantity, and price. She also admitted that those associates would bring her the proceeds of the sales, a portion of which she kept and the remainder of which she deposited in Gomes’ prison account.
Joshua Moore, 19, formerly of Pawtucket, and Gerald Price, 34, of Cranston, were among the associates who sold drugs for Gomes.
Appearing today before U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Ellis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and distribution of 28 grams or more of cocaine base, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Kelly D. Brady.
Ellis is scheduled to be sentenced on November 10, 2020. Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and distribution of 28 grams or more of cocaine base are each punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum term of incarceration of 5 years; a life term of supervised release; and a fine of up to $1,000,000.
In this matter, Gomes pleaded guilty on October 15, 2019, to one count of conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, one count of distribution of 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and three counts of distribution of cocaine base. He was sentenced on July 8, 2020, to 77 months in federal prison, to be served concurrently with his present term of incarceration at the ACI on state charges. His term of incarceration in federal prison is to be followed by 4 years’ federal supervised release.
Joshua Moore pleaded guilty on September 4, 2019, to conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and three counts of distribution of cocaine base. He was sentenced on November 21, 2019, to 60 months in federal prison to be followed by 4 years of supervised release.
Gerald Price pleaded guilty on November 8, 2019, to conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, distribution of 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and three counts of distribution of cocaine base. He was sentenced on February 24, 2020, to 60 months incarceration to be followed by 4 years of supervised release.
The cases in federal court are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Milind M. Shah.