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Buford man sentenced to 11 years in federal prison after 2020 heroin bust

A Buford man was sentenced to 11 ½ years in federal prison after a December 2020 heroin bust, according to court documents.

Bernard Jermaine House pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and possession with intent to distribute heroin. U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story sentenced House Dec. 21. 

House was the primary suspect in a year-long investigation from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Police and other law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation seized during the investigation 433 grams of methamphetamine, 4 pounds of marijuana, 89 grams of crack cocaine, 53 grams of powder cocaine and 90 grams of heroin.

House must also forfeit a combined $22,341 in cash and funds seized from a credit union account, a 2010 Mercedes Benz S550, a 2016 Honda Rancher ATV, a .40 caliber handgun and assorted ammunition.

In a memo filed a day before sentencing, defense attorney Caitlyn Wade recounted how House began to work at 14 to support his financially struggling family.

Wade said being a good father to his eight children remains “his greatest goal.”

“At times, his youth, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and traumatic childhood have made that difficult,” Wade wrote. “His criminal history began very young when he was trying to provide for his family.”

Those early convictions made it difficult for House to keep a quality job, forcing him to turn to selling drugs, Wade wrote.

“It’s this cycle of conduct that brings him before the court in this case,” Wade wrote.

Wade said more than 20 family members and friends sent the court letters in support of House, describing the man as a “loving father” devoted to his family.

His incarceration will mean that he won’t be able to care for his elderly mother, and his 2-year-old son will be in the fifth grade when House is released, Wade wrote.

House’s attorney said the sentence is more than three times longer than his longest prior sentence.

“Each family holiday, milestone and life event that he misses serves as a harsh reminder not only of the consequences of his conduct in this case but also the consequences he will face if he were to ever engage in this type of conduct again,” Wade wrote.

Story allowed for House to serve his sentence at a facility as close as possible to Northeast Georgia.

After his prison sentence, House will be on supervised release for four years.

Wade did not immediately return a request for comment Monday, Dec. 27.