Joseph Simmons IV became the second person to have a drug conviction thrown out because of a court order following an investigation into the now-disbanded Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team.
District Attorney Jackie Johnson said Friday that a May 23, 2018, criminal accusation against Simmons resulted from tainted evidence provided by one of the confidential informants referenced in Judge Roger Lane’s May 28, 2019, order. Although Simmons was brought before Glynn County Magistrate Court in January 2018 on six counts of sale of cocaine, the accusation only led to a charge of one count.
Simmons, 29, pleaded guilty to that one count of sale of cocaine the same day as the filing of the accusation. The alleged crime caused a revocation of his probation, which Simmons was on following an October 2011 guilty plea for sale of cocaine.
In the 2011 matter, Simmons received 10 years probation, 20-24 months confinement with credit for time served, plus fees and fines. With the 2018 plea and sentence, the court also ordered three years confinement from the probation revocation.
According to the state Department of Corrections website, Simmons was serving time at Calhoun State Prison in Morgan, with a maximum release date of Jan. 8, 2021, when defense attorney Jason Clark filed the June 4 extraordinary motion to withdraw plea and modify sentence.
Superior Court Judge Anthony Harrison granted the motion Friday, vacating the sentence handed down in June 2018 and Simmons’ guilty plea from the month before.
Simmons was still in the Glynn County Detention Center as of Tuesday morning, but Johnson said when he’s released, he will be back on probation from the 2011 case.
She added that the process of dealing with possible tainted convictions remains an ongoing matter. The District Attorney’s Office identified around 10 more people who have hearings upcoming through the remainder of June and in July, in an attempt to first deal with people who are currently confined. Lists of defendants and cases are going out to attorneys who were the last person representing the convicted, so they can file motions if appropriate.
From there, Johnson said prosecutors will then handle people who are on probation from matters associated with the GBNET scandal, and so on.