WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - A Federal judge has sentenced a major supplier of crack in Walterboro to life in prison plus ten years for attempting to murder a witness.
Martin Ballard, 34, was found guilty of nine counts including possessing cocaine and using interstate commerce to try to commit murder for hire.
Cooperating witnesses helped authorities confirm that Ballard was a large-scale distributor of cocaine and crack cocaine from at least 2008 until he was arrested in March 2012. Ballard and members of his organization were charged in a federal indictment.
Evidence presented in court established that Ballard hired a hitman while in jail and also told others to make an attempt to off a witness in the federal investigation. According to a news release, the victim was shot seven to 11 times after cooperating with investigators, but survived.
Acting U.S. Attorney Beth Drake said that the sentence sends a strong message that people who try to intimidate or harm witnesses will face heightened sentences.
"The criminal justice system cannot and will not tolerate the kind of severe criminal wrongdoing Mr. Ballard orchestrated," Drake said.