A Bowling Green man caught with multiple firearms and a safe that contained large quantities of cocaine and crystal methamphetamine was sentenced Tuesday to 161/2 years in prison.
Billy Ray Mitchell, 38, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on two counts of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, two counts of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and one count each of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, possession of unregistered firearms and possessing a firearm as a felon.
Prior to being sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Stivers, Mitchell apologized for his actions.
“I’m ready to get this behind me so I can try to get where I’m going,” Mitchell said. “I want to try to come out a productive citizen.”
Mitchell’s attorney, Ralph Beck, requested that Mitchell be sent to a penitentiary that offers training in the field of welding.
Federal prosecutors had requested a 20-year prison sentence for Mitchell, based on the conduct that led to his criminal charges and a prior drug trafficking conviction in Tennessee.
Stivers found the penalty requested by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jo Lawless to be unnecessarily severe and imposed a sentence requiring Mitchell to serve five years on one of the weapons charges and 111/2 years on the remaining counts.
Federal court records indicate that Mitchell was the subject of a drug investigation in 2017 after law enforcement became aware of his involvement in drug activity through a cooperating source of information.
On March 1, 2017, police executed a search warrant at Mitchell’s Audley Avenue home and found a loaded handgun on the dresser.
According to court records, Mitchell was not home at the time, but a neighbor pointed out his vehicle to police as it drove past his house.
Police followed the vehicle to a Walmart, where Mitchell was arrested.
While searching Mitchell’s car, police found about 19.7 grams of crystal meth, 2.6 grams of cocaine, marijuana and a second loaded handgun.
Mitchell was brought back to his residence, where law enforcement found three shotguns, two of which were sawed-off, in a drawstring backpack in a hallway closet where a safe was also discovered.
“Mitchell told one of the officers that once (law enforcement) opened the safe, he’s done,” Lawless said in the sentencing memorandum.
When officers opened the safe, they found about 142.6 grams of crystal meth and 135 grams of cocaine, federal court records show.