BRUNSWICK, GA. | Nine Southeast Georgians are charged in a conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine in Brantley, Ware, Clayton and Wayne counties, according to a federal indictment.

 

Seven defendants, Robert Ira Anderson, Charles W. Merkle, Grover W. Herrin, James Robbin Belch, Kenneth Jerome Williams, Karen Moody and Lemuel Glenn Henderson, appeared Wednesday afternoon before Judge R. Stan Baker, a U.S. magistrate in Brunswick.

Anthony Joseph Parse and Anderson’s wife, Susan, have not been arrested and are still being sought.

All are from Brantley County but Belch and his son, Merkle, officials said.

The indictment accuses the defendants of engaging in a conspiracy beginning in November 2015 to possess and distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine and most also face distribution charges.

One of the criminal counts, for example, charges Belch, Merkle and Herrin with distributing methamphetamine in Ware and Brantley counties in July 2016.

Law enforcement officers have said that in Brantley County the Andersons were known by the street names of Ma and Pa in a county where methamphetamine use is widespread.

Of the seven defendants who appeared before Baker, all had gray or graying hair except for Moody, whose hair is blonde, and Robert Anderson, who is bald on top with the rest of his hair shaved.

The indictment also charges some of the defendants with possession of a firearm during the futherance of a crime and possession of a firearm by a felon. The indictment asks the court to forfeit 15 guns to the government including pistols, rifles and shotguns.

The indictment resulted from a joint investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Southeastern Drug Enforcement Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

All but Robert Anderson told Baker they cannot afford to pay defense lawyers, and he indicated he had read their financial affidavits and would appoint lawyers for them.

Anderson is represented by Alan David Tucker of Brunswick who told Baker that he also represents Moody in a Brantley County criminal case and would continue to represent her there in Superior Court, but could not represent her on the federal charges.

Tucker said Anderson had been expecting the indictment.

“We’ve been planning on this day for two or three months,” Tucker told Baker.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Bourne told the court the distribution charges can carry up to 20 years in prison while the conspiracy charge is punishable by prison terms of 10 years to life. Bourne also said the government will move to have all the defendants retained until trial and Baker said he will conduct a hearing next week on whether to detain the defendants.

Tucker spoke on Moody’s behalf telling Baker she is hopeful she can be released on bond and get a job.

“She did a long period of incarceration in Brantley County to get clean,” Tucker said.

Law enforcement agencies continue to look for Parse and Susan Anderson. Anyone who knows their whereabouts is asked to call their local sheriff of police department.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405