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Man who trafficked amphetamine pills sentenced to 25 years, charges dropped against co-defendant
Benjamin Plymale
Benjamin Plymale

One defendant in a drug trafficking case was sentenced to 25 years in prison, while charges were dismissed against a second one, according to court officials and documents.

Benjamin Clark Plymale, 31, was sentenced to 30 years with the first 25 in prison after a negotiated plea Monday, Aug. 23, to an amphetamine trafficking charge. He will receive credit for time served since March 2017, and the remainder of the sentence may be served on probation.

Authorities found more than $500,000 worth of pills in a Hall County home March 14, 2017.

Lt. Don Scalia previously told The Times the Hall County Sheriff’s Office warrant division was out at a Ridgewood Avenue residence.

“They noticed a pretty significant quantity of empty prescription bottles in the residence,” Scalia previously told The Times. “They did not make contact with either subject at that time.”

A subsequent search of the Ridgewood Avenue home in Gainesville reportedly led to 30,929 pills of more than 40 types, including alprazolam, morphine, amphetamine and others.

“That’s the most pills I’ve ever seen in one place, for sure,” Scalia previously told The Times.

Plymale and Venessa Chavira were indicted in 2019 on charges of trafficking fentanyl, morphine and amphetamine. They were also charged with possession with intent to distribute those drugs as well as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Plymale tendered his plea on the amphetamine trafficking charge under the statute set by Alford v. North Carolina, where a defendant maintains his innocence while acknowledging the evidence would likely lead to a conviction.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said the remaining 12 charges were dismissed “as a matter of plea negotiation in the light of (Plymale) also closing a burglary case in Barrow County.”

Plymale’s defense attorney, Wayne Burnaine, did not respond to an email seeking comment from The Times.

Darragh said they also dismissed the charges against Chavira due to the “likelihood she’d be acquitted,” as she was out of state at the time the drugs were found in her house.

The prosecutor also said Chavira’s expected testimony if Plymale went to trial would have helped convict him.

“We knew she was innocent, and we were glad that the state was able to convict the appropriate person and that the innocent person was exonerated,” Chavira’s attorney Ryan Swingle said.

Chavira was released Thursday, Aug. 26, from the Hall County Jail after four months in jail.

Swingle said his client “always maintained her innocence, and the first priority in her mind was getting home to her children.”

“She’s first and foremost a mother who loves her children very much, and she’s relieved to be able to be back home with them,” Swingle said.

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