First federal criminal trial since COVID-19 court restrictions
Seattle – A 51-year-old Seattle man was convicted late Friday, May 21, in U.S. District Court in Seattle of drug and gun crimes following a five-day jury trial, announced Acting United States Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. The conviction of Clyde McKnight resulted from a 6-month investigation in 2017 by the Seattle Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration, of significant drug trafficking in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. The jury deliberated for a day before finding him guilty of Possession of Controlled Substances with Intent to Distribute. U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly scheduled sentencing for McKnight for August 26, 2021.
According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, Clyde McKnight was arrested outside a Portland, Oregon motel in January 2018. The arrest followed the seizure of 2.6 kilos of cocaine, 1.5 kilos of heroin, 607 grams of crack cocaine, 42 grams of methamphetamine and 180 grams of fentanyl from McKnight’s vehicle in Seattle. At the time of his arrest, MCKNIGHT had $39,000 and a handgun with him.
McKnight had been observed by law enforcement using a Chrysler 300 sedan as a storage location for drugs – crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. McKnight parked the vehicle in various locations in the Mount Baker neighborhood. On the night of January 2, 2018, the Seattle Police Department impounded the car and obtained a search warrant. In the early morning of January 3, 2018, McKnight made numerous panicked calls to 9-1-1 to report the vehicle stolen. Ultimately, he was informed the vehicle had been impounded and was in the police evidence yard. McKnight immediately tried to flee the state, traveling to Portland, Oregon where he was arrested.
A search of McKnight’s apartment in downtown Seattle turned up another firearm – a loaded Glock. McKnight is prohibited from possessing firearms due to prior convictions – including one for attempted murder. The jury reached separate verdicts following the drug conviction, finding that McKnight was also guilty of being a felon in possession of the two firearms.
Four other conspirators were charged, convicted, and sentenced as part of the case:
Patrick Tables, 56, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Jonathon Rushing, 42, was sentenced to 8 and a half years in prison.
Michael Turner, 52, was sentenced to 5 years in prison
Marvin Traylor, 52, was sentenced to one year in prison.
After multiple requests by the defendant for delays in the trial, McKnight’s trial was scheduled for April 2020. The pandemic closure of the U.S. District Courthouse to in-person appearances delayed the trial further. The case was the first one scheduled for trial as the courthouse returned to limited jury trials.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.
The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Port of Seattle Police Department and the FBI crime lab at Quantico, VA.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Vince Lombardi and Casey Conzatti.
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