Three suspected of gang activity to be arraigned in federal court

Monday, February 2, 2009 | 12:27 p.m. CST; updated 4:19 p.m. CST, Monday, February 2, 2009

COLUMBIA — One of the 16 people suspected of involvement in a Columbia gang pleaded not guilty to federal drug trafficking charges on Monday in the central division of the U.S. Court for the Western District of Missouri in Jefferson City.

Donna Coats, 39, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and use of a communication device to facilitate illegal drug distribution, according to a clerk of the District Court.

Her trial is scheduled for April 27.

Two others are scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon on other federal drug trafficking charges.

Michael Lee Stapleton, 22, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.

Robert Darnell Simmons, 36, was arrested on conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs in an organization and federal gun charges, among others.

Check back with the Missourian for more updates.

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