County man gets 32 years

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- A Roan Mountain man was sentenced in federal court on Jan. 29 to 32 years in prison after being found guilty of narcotics and firearms charges.
Gregory Allen Oaks, 52, of Bear Branch Road, located in the Buck Mountain community of Roan Mountain, was sentenced to 32 years in prison by Judge Lacy Thornburg on charges of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm during and in relation to drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
An investigation began in June 2002 by the U.S. Forestry Service when a forest officer approached Oaks regarding a parking violation.
The U.S. Forest Service recovered approximately one ounce of cocaine, two digital scales, plastic bags, approximately $27,000 in cash and three stolen firearms from Oaks' vehicle.
Oaks fled the scene and avoided arrest for nearly six months before being caught by U.S. Marshals who were assisted by North Carolina and Tennessee police.
A federal indictment was filed against Oaks in the Western District Court of North Carolina in October 2002, and Oaks was apprehended on Dec. 4 of that year. A jury convicted Oaks in March 2003.
Oaks was arrested early that morning as he was leaving his residence by U.S. Marshals, officers of the Carter County Sheriff's Department, agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, agents of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and other North Carolina law enforcement agencies.
"We set up surveillance two weeks ago at the Oaks residence," said CCSD Sheriff John Henson at the time of Oaks arrest in 2002. "We spotted Mr. Oaks getting in his vehicle to drive down the road to his parent's residence, and that's when we decided to move in and make the arrest."
U. S. Marshal Jeff Hedden said at the time of Oaks' arrest that Oaks has a lengthy criminal history that includes firearms violations, narcotics and violence. Oaks was listed as being "armed and dangerous" in the information that U.S. Marshals sent to law enforcement agencies. Hedden said Oaks was considered to be dangerous because of the nature of his previous offenses.
Hedden described Oaks as combative and also said he had attempted to flee apprehension several times. "Not only was he a drug dealer, he was also a drug user, so we had to wonder what kind of mindset he would be in when we apprehended him," Hedden said in Dec. 2002.
According to reports, Oaks' sentence was enhanced by his lengthy criminal history.
Oaks also has a charge of theft of property over $10,000 pending against him in Carter County, Tenn.
Henson said at the time of Oaks' arrest that the CCSD obtained search warrants for Oaks' residence in Roan Mountain where officers discovered several items that had been reported as stolen in Carter County.
Officers found a pickup truck and a four-wheeler that had been reported stolen from Carter County. They also found several handguns and rifles -- including an AR15 assault rifle -- at least one of which has been identified as being stolen. Some of the items were stolen two or three years ago; others were stolen more recently, Henson said.