A judge Thursday imposed the 23-year prison sentence a jury recommended for one of five people arrested after one of them tried to sell drugs to an undercover Stafford detective in 2018.

Berry Petion, 35, of Bristol, Tenn., was convicted by a Stafford Circuit Court jury in October of conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and gang participation. The 23 years far exceeds the sentences ranging from five months to six years received by three codefendants, who all pleaded guilty to various drug-related charges.

Defense attorney Joshua Parrett asked Judge Michael Levy to suspend some of Petion’s time, pointing out that the recommended state sentencing guidelines called for a maximum active sentence of about six years.

But prosecutor Ed Lustig said the jury sent a clear message that heroin dealers and gang members are not welcome in Stafford and argued that the recommendation should be upheld. Lustig said the evidence showed that Petion came here to expand his heroin market and to recruit new gang members.

Levy pointed out that Petion already had a lengthy criminal record and declined to suspend any time.

The evidence showed that Stafford detectives were in the Days Inn parking lot off U.S. 17 in southern Stafford on Oct. 9, 2018, working on an unrelated case. Rachel Figueroa of Stafford walked up to Detective Josh Scott and asked, “Are you looking for something?”

Another codefendant, Voshon O. Carpenter, later came to and asked Scott if he wanted cocaine or heroin. Scott said he wanted heroin and was led to a truck where Figueroa was holding the drug.

Meanwhile, Detective R. Mervil was outside two motel rooms where police suspected drug activity and prostitution was going on when he was pulled into a room by codefendant Jacob Dougherty, who warned the undercover detective that it was “hot” out there because police were in the area.

Mervil found evidence in the room that resulted in the charges against Petion and others. Police determined Petion was a high-ranking member of the Piru Bloods.

The fifth person arrested, Shamara Cashwell of Fredericksburg, did not appear for an Oct. 9 hearing in Stafford and has been a fugitive from justice ever since, court records show.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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