Correction: Haynes did not testify at the trial of his older half-brother, Anthony Gadson, who was sentenced to 25 years in December. The original article was incorrect.
FAIRBANKS — The last among a group of seven defendants arrested for selling cocaine last year was sentenced at the Fairbanks Federal Building Thursday morning.
Brandon Haynes was sentenced to 15 years. He will likely serve the time at a federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., at the request of his attorney.
Haynes, who was 25 when he was indicted in May 2011, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime. He has cooperated with investigators since his arrest.
Although Haynes has admitted being a drug dealer, the size of his operation was still somewhat contested at Thursday’s hearing. Prosecutors said testimony at Gadson’s trial linked Haynes to between 10 and 12 9-ounce crack cocaine deals. Haynes’ attorney, Allen Dayan, of Anchorage said this testimony came from non-credible informant.
In his sentencing comments, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline took a softer tone than he did at Gadson’s hearing in December. Unlike Gadson, Haynes took responsibility for his actions from the beginning, he said.
“There is a lot to recommend this young man,” he said. “We get people sometimes who are mean spirited or downright scary dangerous. He (Haynes) is not.”
However, he said drugs are a cancer in Fairbanks and require tough sentences.
“You can be a nice guy and still be a drug dealer,” he said.
Haynes read an apology to Fairbanks and to his family. He said he got into drug dealing as a way to make some money and never saw it as long-term business. It’s not an excuse, he said, but he grew up in a family of drug users. His father is now in federal prison on drug charges, he said. As a dealer, he sold mainly to other dealers and was insulated from the harmful effects drugs have on addicts, he said. He’s since come around on the dark side of drugs.
“I’ve made up my mind that I will never sell drugs again,” he said, vowing to take college classes in jail so he can get a legal job when he gets out. “I know I can break the circle of bad decisions of men in my family.”
In a seldom seen exchange after the hearing ended, Dayan, Haynes’ attorney, turned to Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Crail.
“Thank you for taking it easy on him. I know you could have really turned it in,” he said.
Crail then walked over to Haynes and said she hopes he rehabilitates himself and returns to Fairbanks.
Prosecutors described Haynes, Gadson and a third man, Willie Wilson, as the three main participants in the drug distribution ring. Wilson was previously sentenced to 14 years on drug charges and a charge that he assaulted a witness in the drug case.
The other four defendants were given the following sentences: Donte Edwards, 5 years four months; Joe Powell, 23 months; Natasha Wolfe, two years probation.
A Fairbanks jury acquitted an eighth defendant, Andra Ali Taylor, on a witness-tampering charge.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545, Follow him on Twitter, @FDNMcrime.