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Richmond County Man Sentenced for Operating Illegal Mail-Order Drug Business


Augusta, GA - In a landmark case for the Southern District of Georgia, Conway James Rhinehart, 43, of Hephzibah, Ga., has been sentenced to 108 months in federal prison for his involvement in trafficking illegal synthetic drugs. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall imposed the sentence, which also includes a forfeiture of $50,000 in seized proceeds and a subsequent three-year term of supervised release. Notably, there is no parole in the federal system.


Rhinehart's criminal enterprise involved the operation of a mail-order business, through which he sold a-PHP, a synthetic cannabinoid, and Eutylone, commonly referred to as “bath salts.” U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg, prosecuting the case, highlighted Rhinehart's audacity in continuing his illicit activities even after his indictment and release on pre-trial bond. It wasn't until he was taken into federal custody that his operations ceased.


The investigation, which commenced in 2020, revealed Rhinehart's sophisticated system of receiving drugs from various overseas locations under multiple aliases and addresses in the Augusta area. He then packaged, marketed, and distributed these drugs nationwide, deceptively selling them as “energy powders” or “energy crystals” through a website.


The case against Rhinehart, leading to his indictment in June 2022 and subsequent guilty plea in September 2023, represents a significant victory for law enforcement. His arrest and conviction have effectively dismantled a major illegal synthetic drug operation in Richmond County.


Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Robert J. Murphy, and Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Tommy D. Coke, both emphasized the importance of this sentencing. They lauded the collaborative efforts of various agencies, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Pennsylvania State Police, in bringing Rhinehart to justice.


Assistant U.S. Attorneys L. Alexander Hamner, Matthew A. Josephson, and Jeremiah L. Johnson prosecuted the case, demonstrating the government's unwavering commitment to combating illegal drug trafficking and ensuring the safety of communities.

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