Richmond man arrested with fentanyl told conspirators from jail to keep selling drugs

Kansas City Star

A Richmond man was sentenced Tuesday to 19 years in prison for his involvement in a large-scale fentanyl trafficking conspiracy.

Forty-nine-year-old Bud Hembree was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves on charges of conspiracy to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

On December 14, 2020, law enforcement arrested Hembree and found approximately 17 grams of fentanyl on his person, according to his plea agreement.

According to a news release from the Department of Justice, law enforcement monitored Hembree’s jail calls while he was detained, revealing that he directed his other co-defendants to distribute fentanyl while he was in jail. According to court documents, he made nearly 15 jail calls to organize drug transactions.

Hembree pleaded guilty in May 2022 and was the last of the conspirators to be sentenced. Hembree’s co-defendants have previously been sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy and received the following sentences:

  • Leon H. Benson, 37, of Berea, Ky., received nearly nine years in prison, followed by six years of supervised release.

  • Shanquenta V. Bulley, 27, of Berea, received three years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.

  • Claudia D. Gibson, 39, from Richmond, received three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

  • Justin M. Howell, 38, of Richmond, received nearly 21 years in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release.

  • Tiffany A. McCormick, 42, from Richmond, received almost eight years in prison, followed by six years of supervised release.

  • Joseph W. McElroy, 42, of Richmond, received 20 years in prison, followed by six years of supervised release.

  • Misty D. Riddell, 30, from Berea, received 10 years in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release.

Under federal law, Hembree and his co-defendants must serve 85% of their prison sentences, according to the DOJ. Upon his release from prison, Hembree will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for six years.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, KSP, Madison County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, Richmond Police Department; Berea Police Department; and Madison County Sheriff’s Office. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kiebler.