A McCarr man indicted and arrested in April on a federal methamphetamine trafficking charge pleaded guilty Tuesday in Pikeville.
In a rearraignment hearing in U.S. District Court, Earl G. Blankenship, 57, of Ky. 1056, pleaded guilty as part of an agreement to a charge of distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and a charge of possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Blankenship pleaded not guilty to the charges after he was initially indicted in April in a nine-count indictment.
In federal court Tuesday, Blankenship — who was brought into court in a wheelchair due to the lingering effects of a stroke which has left him paralyzed from the waist down — told U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell that he is guilty of the accusations made against him in the indictment. Caldwell accepted the guilty plea and set sentencing in the case for Aug. 6.
Blankenship faces a minimum sentence in the case of at least 10 years in prison. According to Caldwell, the sentencing guidelines for the offenses for which Blankenship pleaded guilty could see him imprisoned for the rest of his life.
Blankenship was arrested in April after an investigation by the FBI, court documents show.
According to an affidavit filed in the case by an FBI special agent in support of the search warrant and in connection with the charges, information was received regarding trafficking activities by Blankenship, leading investigators to conduct several buys of methamphetamine from Blankenship which totaled more than 50 grams of the drug.
In addition, during the course of the investigation, it was identified that Blankenship, a convicted felon, was in possession of various firearms.
Pike County Detention Center records show that Blankenship has an extensive criminal history, including a conviction in connection with a 2000 federal trafficking case, which resulted in him being sentenced to a year in prison with two years of supervised release.
According to the booking log at the jail, Blankenship remains lodged in the Pike County Detention Center.