Franklin man sentenced in drug, weapons case

Published 4:09 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2016


A 41-year-old Franklin man was sentenced on Wednesday to 300 months (25 years) in prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking case. Phillip “Philly” Jerome Murphy, who was apprehended in July following a three-year FBI investigation into the Red Stone Rydahs street gang, pleaded guilty to the charge in September.



Court documents show that Murphy and co-conspirator Collie “Sonny Black” Rashad Sanks were the leaders of the gang, which reportedly distributes drugs in Franklin, Emporia, Smithfield and Southampton County. During the investigation, undercover agents and confidential sources purchased heroin and an M-4 assault rifle from Murphy. The first of four transactions occurred in March 2014 when a confidential source bought heroin from Murphy for $2,800. The most recent happened in May 2015, less than a half-mile from S.P. Morton Elementary School.

A previously convicted felon and by law not allowed to have guns in his possession, Murphy allegedly sold an M-4 assault rifle in July to an undercover Virginia State Police Officer for $1,000. The court records claim that Murphy told the undercover officer that he needed to sell the weapon quickly because it was stolen. After the purchase was made, it was discovered that the gun was stolen in January 2014 and had previously crossed state lines.

As frequently as twice per month, Murphy and Sanks would travel to New York to purchase bulk quantities of heroin and then return to southeastern Virginia to distribute the drug. An affidavit also showed that the former told an undercover officer that he had “several individuals who work selling narcotics for him.”

Murphy fled into a field behind his home on Morton Street when authorities first attempted to serve an arrest warrant on the morning of July 16. He was apprehended without incident at a relative’s house in Southampton County that evening, and was denied bond throughout his hearing.