The Tennessee man federal prosecutors say was the ringleader in a conspiracy to burglarize nearly 70 pharmacies across 11 states over a five-year period, including two in Corbin, Kentucky, and several in Tennessee, was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday.
Robert Nunley, of Tracy City, appeared before Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove in U.S. District Court in London for formal sentencing.
Nunley pleaded guilty in March to two counts of burglary of a pharmacy and one count of conspiracy to distribute Schedule II controlled substances, to include oxycodone.
Based on the results of the presentence investigation, which took into account multiple factors including his criminal history, and the nature and circumstances of the offense, the federal sentencing guidelines set a sentencing range of 78 to 98 months for Nunley.
However, under federal law, a judge is not required to follow the guidelines and may impose a sentence above or below them.
Van Tatenhove noted that while Nunley had no extended criminal history and no history of violence, the nature of the crime and its effect reached far beyond the business owners.
“Frankly, it is hard to overstate the scope,” VanTatenhove said.
On the plus side, Van Tatenhove noted the support network Nunley has in his family.
When asked if he wished to say anything to the court, Nunley offered his thanks to the six members of his family, including his mother, Bonnie, who had traveled from Tennessee to be in the courtroom.
“The things I have done have destroyed my family in certain ways,” Nunley said explaining that he spent 20 years working at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, moving from a line employee to management.
In addition, Nunley coached local softball and baseball teams.
“In July 2015, I woke up to drug addiction,” Nunley said explaining that part of what drove him to burglarize the pharmacies was to feed his own drug habit.
“I’d like to apologize to the people of the United States,” Nunley said.
Bonnie Nunley asked for an opportunity to address the court, explaining that her son had gone through a big change for the better in the nearly 39 months he had been incarcerated.
“This is not the Bobby we are discussing,” Bonnie Nunley said adding that the family members would do everything morally right to ensure her son remained out of trouble and free of drugs.
“You are the person that your mom described,” Van Tatenhove said explaining that Nunley must still be held accountable for his actions.
“You let addiction get to you. You made decisions that harmed a lot of communities,” Van Tatenhove said.
Nunley will receive credit for the time he has served while awaiting the outcome of the case.
While incarcerated, Van Tatenhove recommended that Nunley take part in drug treatment and job/skills training programs available.
Upon release from prison, Nunley will be placed on supervised release for a period of three years.
As to the matter of restitution, Van Tatenhove said he would address that matter at a future hearing after each of the defendants in the case had been sentenced.
In addition to Sav-Rite and Stephanie’s Down Home Pharmacy in Corbin, Nunley admitted to burglarizing pharmacies in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois and Indiana between 2010 and 2015.
Nunley admitted to working with co-defendants Christopher Land, Jamie Sweeton, Randy Stiefel, Kenneth Britton, Anthony Bosio, James Ronald Jones and Tony Britton, to obtain and sell the pills.
“The defendant’s (Nunley’s) participation in these burglaries typically included breaking locks on pharmacies’ doors to gain entry to the pharmacies,” the plea agreement states.
Video surveillance from each pharmacy shows masked men popping the lock on the front door to gain entry to the respective buildings.
Once inside, the burglars swept the drugs off of the shelves and into large storage tubs.
The investigation into each burglary had gone cold until mid-2016, when U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials contacted Corbin Police after developing a case connecting Nunley to the burglaries.
“Pill bottles taken during the burglaries at Stephanie’s had been found at Nunley’s home when the DEA searched it,” said Corbin Police Chief Rusty Hedrick, who was the detective working the Sav-Rite burglary.
At the time the initial indictment was returned, Nunley was incarcerated in the Lincoln County, Tennessee, jail on charges stemming from a 2012 burglary at a pharmacy in Shelbyville.
“They went in and popped the lock and left with quite a few pills, Shelbyville Police Lt. Brian Crews told The Herald newspaper in Grundy County, Tennessee at the time of the burglary.
In return for admitting to the additional burglaries, federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute Nunley for them.