Union Co Man Sentenced For Distributing Drugs In Prison
A Union County man who was convicted of helping bring drugs into a prison, will now be headed back to prison. 45 year old Michael Wayne Lee of Blaine was sentenced in federal court in Greeneville on Thursday to 87 months in prison for Conspiring to Distribute Fentanyl; Abetting the Distribution of Fentanyl; and Using a Communication Facility to Conspire to Distribute Fentanyl. According to court documents, on May 15, 2020, two inmates at the former Northeast Correctional Complex Annex in Carter County, were transported to a local hospital for treatment related to a fentanyl overdose; one inmate died. The TBI and Department of Corrections investigated and found that Lee, while an inmate accused a contraband cell phone to communicate with a co-defendant, 70 year old Debra Kathleen Vekasi of Knoxville who would acquire narcotics and transport them to Carter County. She would hide the narcotics in tennis balls, which were thrown over a security fence and into the recreation yard. Inmates would collect the narcotics- filled tennis balls for Lee, who would then distribute the drugs throughout the prison. On May 15, 2020, the narcotics that Vekasi sent over the fence at the facility included 30 fake oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl. A search of Vekasi’s cell phone included text messages between her and Lee that discussed the receipt and distribution of narcotics, as well as the receipt and payment of money for the narcotics. For her part in this scheme, Vekasi was sentenced to the 28 months time already served and released but will be on probation for the next three years.