Palm Beach County resident convicted on drug trafficking charges

Shane McKenney was branded a racketeer and principal of a prescription pill mill responsible for illegally obtaining thousands of pills from local pharmacies. Shane’s drug of choice is oxycodone and has been addicted to the narcotic for several years.

The guilty verdicts were returned by the jury that consisted of five women and one man at the beginning of their second day of deliberations. The jury convicted him of dozens of trafficking charges going back to 2007. He was also found guilty of lesser trafficking charges due to the actual weights of the pills in some of the cases. Out of the more than 100 trafficking charges he was only acquitted of an insignificant amount.

In 2008, McKenney, a resident of North Palm Beach was rounded up with more than a dozen others in connection with an oxycodone ring which surfaced at the end of an investigation of a home burglary in Palm Beach Gardens.

Prosecutor Christy Rogers called upon other persons arrested with McKenney to provide testimony against him including Michael Zimmerman who explained to the jury how McKenney attained phony prescriptions on the Internet and then handed them out to other members of the group to be filled by local pharmacies. Zimmerman was quick to suggest that the pharmacies did very little or nothing at all to verify the authenticity of the prescriptions. All the prescriptions were paid for with cash. McKenney’s attorney argued the same point before the court and pointed out that her client was an oxycodone addict who heavily used the drugs he was suspected of trafficking.

McKenney will be sentenced on Oct. 29 to a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison. Still because of the conviction of racketeering McKenney could face a much longer term of imprisonment. At the discretion of Circuit Judge Richard Oftedal, the term can vary but family members commented that because he is an addict the case should not be compared to that of Chris and Jeff George who plea bargained a 25 year minimum mandatory sentence in a similar type of case. Chris George received 17 ½ years and his Brother Jeff’s penalty was capped at 20 years in prison.

After the verdict was read the defendant’s lawyer stated that she planned to file papers showing that her client should have been charged with fraudulently obtaining a prescription which is a third degree felony which carries a maximum five-year sentence as opposed to the minimum five years that he is now looking at.

It is important to note that narcotic addiction and dependence are medical illnesses that need the full attention of the health care community. McKenney’s mother told a deputy that Shane was a man whose pill addiction propelled him to get fake prescriptions for others to primarily feed his own habit.

Although the lay person might think that drug addiction can be a defense to drug trafficking charges unfortunately it is not. The law permitting such a defense changed in the late 1990’s. Therefor drug addiction or drug intoxication is generally not a defense to drug conspiracies and the like. However if reasons apart from addiction can be raised, perhaps a defendant’s mental state, based upon a recognized mental illness then drug addiction in combination with such a mental State can be raised as a defense. It does not appear that this defendant’s addiction problems would be sufficient for a trial defense. However it might be used for mitigation purposes at the time of his sentencing.

If you are being investigated for, and/or charged with drug charges, including the distribution of narcotics, racketeering, and laundering the proceeds and are looking for an experienced federal drug criminal defense lawyer / attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or West Palm Beach area, Mr. Cohen’s office can provide you with the skilled representation you need.

Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer rated AV by Martindale Hubbel (pre-eminent) and a “Super Lawyer” recognized as being in the top 5% of his specialized field (criminal trial law) among Florida lawyers. He is considered a specialist by the Florida Bar in his field. Mr. Cohen has tried scores of cases over his 35 year career and is a member of the Florida and New York Bars. His office is located in Fort Lauderdale and practices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, among other counties. He is also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh and Second Circuit.

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