Judge minimizes sentence, grants work release so family gets support

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Lewisburg man will get a chance to prove he has turned his life around and put a criminal past behind him, because of a decision made in Circuit Court last week.

Gregory Wayne Cozart, 27, of Tiger Boulevard, pled guilty to drug charges on April 20, but begged Judge Robert Crigler for another chance.

"I changed my whole lifestyle, my friends and everything," Cozart testified last month.

"He's seen the error of his ways," said Cozart's attorney, Bill Haywood. "He's made every effort to rehabilitate himself and become a productive member of society.

"You won't see this man back in here," Haywood concluded.

Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard opposed probation.

"He was not a lower-level drug dealer," Barnard argued. "We ask that he be required to serve a sentence."

"I thought this was going to be an easy decision," Crigler exclaimed. The judge wanted Cozart to serve his sentence in the county jail, with work release so that he could keep his job and continue to support his wife and children. There were technicalities to work out with Sheriff Norman Dalton, so the sentence was not made official until last week.

Crigler's ruling states that Cozart is to serve 365 days, with work release, and remain on probation for 18 years. He also has to pay total fines of $9,000.

Cozart has been employed at a local business since 2007 and worked his way up to assistant manager. The district manager wrote on his behalf, "I truly believe Mr. Cozart has changed... He is left solely in charge of this location 50 percent of the time and does a respectable job."

Public records show that agents of the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force caught Cozart in February 2008, when the person their confidential informant was trying to buy drugs from went to Cozart in order to get the drugs to sell to the C.I. Agents found a quantity of drugs in Cozart's home. According documents in his case file Cozart spoke with task force agents indicating that "he normally gets around two ounces of cocaine and between one and three pounds of marijuana every two weeks... He had several regular customers he sells cocaine to, all from Lewisburg."

Also in Circuit Court last week:

* Ryan Keith Givens, 29, of 4th Avenue North, pled guilty to a charge of selling cocaine, and was sentenced to nine years in prison, of which he must serve 30 percent before being eligible for parole. Givens was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. He also pled guilty to driving on a suspended license, and on this charge Crigler sentenced him to six months in the county jail, and ordered Givens to pay $610.50 in fine and costs. The other drug charges against Givens were dismissed. His attorney was Ray Fraley of Fayetteville.

* Christie Parrish Boyce, 37, of Murfreesboro, had her Community Corrections order revoked and an additional sentence imposed. Boyce pled guilty in February 2009 to 45 counts of forgery, theft and identity theft for crimes she committed between August and November 2007. At that time, she was working at Cash Express in Lewisburg, and she used some of their old clients' information to take out new loans, keeping the money for herself. Boyce was sentenced to six years of Community Corrections and ordered to serve 120 days in jail. Her Community Corrections agreement was broken in November when Boyce was convicted in Rutherford County on two counts of prescription fraud. She also owes $2,635 in fines and costs.

* John Mark Gold, 51, of Gold Road, pleaded guilty to charges of failure to appear, driving after having been declared a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, driving on a revoked license, failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving property damage, and failure to give notice of an accident involving property damage. According to the report by Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Jimmy Pitts, Gold was driving on Gold Road on Aug. 25 when he "struck Mr. David Jordan's truck mirror with his truck mirror. Mr. Gold left the scene into the back of his farm."

Crigler sentenced Gold to 18 months on the failure to appear charge, and 18 months on the driving after being declared HMVO, to be served at the same time, plus 30 days in the county jail for leaving the scene and another 30 days for failure to give notice. Gold must serve at least 30 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole. He has 99 days of jail credit.

According to documents in his case file, Gold was also involved in an accident with Jordan in 2008, and that crash totaled Jordan's car.