Saturday, January 13, 2018

John Wesley Akin: From Habitat to Heroin

John Wesley Akin, 25, graduated from Birmingham Southern College in May 2010 with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Business Administration. Akin’s resume’ claims a 3.6 GPA and memberships in enough honor societies to field a basketball team. Among his charitable endeavors was work with Habitat for Humanity and Urban Ministries.

The first indication the public gleaned of John Wesley Akin's fall from golden boy was in 2011 when he robbed an outdoor shop. Then in June 2013, Akin's actions took a much more sinister turn:

Akin, who lists his residence as 529 North Seminary Street in the University District, and David Ros, also of Florence, were arrested in Morgan County on Monday for trafficking in heroin. This isn’t Akin’s first criminal rodeo. In May 2011, he was arrested for burglarizing Alabama Outdoors in its former location on Courtwalk. From pilfering ladies’ jackets, Akin has risen to become what some are calling a key player in the North Alabama heroin trade.

Akin lists his current employment as a sales representative with Alabama Interconnect, a communication firm located on Veterans Drive in Florence. It seems likely his future may hold a career in license plate manufacture.

If found guilty, what kind of sentence may Akin expect? According to this, at least 15 years with no good time or parole:

In the State of Alabama, drug trafficking is selling drugs over certain threshold amounts that are different for each type of drug. They include:

More than 2.2 pounds of marijuana
At least 28 grams of cocaine or a mixture containing cocaine
At least four grams of heroin, morphine, opium or other opiates
Five hundred or more pills of hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Palladone)
At least 28 grams of 3,4-methylenedioxy amphetamine (Ecstasy, MDMA)
Four grams or more of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
At least 28 grams of amphetamine, methamphetamine or related drugs

Punishments vary according to the amount, from three years to life without parole, plus heavy fines starting at $50,000. Possession of a firearm while violating this law adds five years to the sentence. If there is any prior felony on your record, you face an enhanced sentence of at least 15 years to life, as a “habitual felony offender.” These are mandatory minimum sentences that don’t allow early parole or time off for good behavior, and they cannot be suspended, deferred or withheld unless the defendant helps the state arrest or convict co-conspirators.

In addition, the state may charge you with involvement in a drug trafficking enterprise if you had a managerial role in a group of at least five other people who trafficked in drugs, and you earned more than the minimum wage by doing so. That charge carries a penalty of 25 years to life for the first offense.

Another arrest quickly followed in July:

John Wesley Akin of Florence was arrested on July 8th in Morgan County and charged with heroin trafficking. Authorities say a member of Akin’s immediate family provided bond for the 25 year old Birmingham Southern graduate. Now sources in Florida have stated that on July 16th, Akin was arrested in Ft. Walton Beach for the fraudulent use of a credit card. Akin remains in the Walton County Jail, and sources say if he should make bond in Florida, he will be returned to Morgan County and held without bail. PNS has also learned that Akin was free on bond in Lauderdale County at the time of his trafficking arrest. Florence police had arrested Akin on May 20th of this year for the possession and use of drug paraphernalia.

A bail jumping charge followed in January 2014:

John Wesley Akin, currently under arrest/indictment for several drug trafficking charges in Alabama and Florida, has been arrested again in the Shoals. Akin, 25, was arrested on November 14th for Second Degree Bail Jumping. The charge relates to a defendant not showing up on the appointed court date and may prove to be the least of Akin’s worries. The reputed heroin trafficker remains free on bond at this time.

In May, Akin went missing for 24 hours. His family issued a plea for any help in finding him, and he was soon located and allowed to remain out of jail on bond. A month later, Akin was arrested again...this time for trafficking:

John Wesley Akin of Florence is currently under indictment in Florida and two counties in Alabama for theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, and…the biggie…heroin trafficking. Akin, 26, was arrested again early this morning on the outskirts of Greenbriar Subdivision in Florence and charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia. Authorities say once the heroin, all stored in small plastic bags, is weighed, Akin may face another charge of trafficking. He currently faces a sentence of 25 years day for day with no possibility of parole or work release.

FPD now says the charge against Akin is indeed trafficking. The sentence, if Akin is found guilty, would be determined by the amount of heroin found and previous convictions. There is no plea bargaining in trafficking cases, and Akin could expect a sentence for this charge to range between three years and life.

The FPD Statement:

“A Florence Man has been arrested and charged with Trafficking in Heroin. Florence Police have arrested John Wesley Akin, 26, of Florence after patrol Sgt. Randal Holt conducted a traffic stop for traffic violations early this morning. While investigating the traffic violations, officers discovered a large amount of heroin in the possession of Akin. Officers and drug agents also located paraphernalia in Akin’s vehicle. Akin is currently being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on $26,000 bond.”

In October, Akin received his first sentence in connection with the heroin charges:

John Wesley Akin of Florence has been sentenced to 15 years for trafficking in less than 14 grams of heroin in Morgan County. He also is serving two lesser sentences from Lauderale County. He is currently in the Limestone Correctional Facility and is still awaiting trial for heroin trafficking in Florence. The current projected release date for the 26 year old Akin is October 14, 2019–meaning he is currently receiving Correctional Incentive Time.

It would be over a year later before Akin was sentenced in Lauderdale County. From December 2015:

John Wesley Akin, 27, accepted a 20 year plea deal on drug trafficking charges on December 8th, 2015. Akin is currently serving a 17 year sentence in the Limestone Correctional Facility on similar charges in Morgan County. Sentenced as a habitual offender for a Class A felony, the Florence man will not be eligible for correctional incentive time, but will be eligible for parole under new sentencing guidelines. If he serves his entire sentence for heroin/drug trafficking, Akin will be 47 when he leaves prison in 2035.

By January 2016, Akin was back in Limestone:

According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, John Wesley Akin has been granted a “jail time credit” of 545 days to be applied to his newest two concurrent sentences for drug trafficking. Akin’s new scheduled release date is July 5, 2034. Akin is also eligible for parole at some point; however, a date has not yet been set.

As this is published in Shoals Crime, Akin still has no parole date set. His Lauderdale sentence of 20 years was for possession; however, his Morgan sentence was for trafficking, meaning no parole consideration until at least 2029. Akin's family has the money to hire the best parole attorneys, so almost anything is possible.

At this point, John Wesley Akin has been incarcerated in jail and the Limestone Correctional Facility for three and a half years. What he will be like at the end of 15 is anyone's guess.