Brother of suspected gang leader pleaded not guilty

Monday, March 2, 2009 | 3:33 p.m. CST; updated 5:12 p.m. CST, Monday, March 2, 2009

COLUMBIA — The brother of the suspected leader of an alleged Columbia gang pleaded not guilty to gun and drug charges Monday in the central division of the U.S. Court for the Western District of Missouri in Jefferson City.

Koda Alshawn Coats, 22, of Columbia pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute at least five grams of cocaine base.

He also pleaded not guilty to another conspiracy charge, which includes competing with others in distributing and making controlled substances and also possessing guns with intent to intimidate and shoot into a group of two or more people.

Coats will remain in prison finishing a five-year sentence for unlawful use of a weapon and a four-year sentence for second-degree drug trafficking, according to Missouri The sentences will be served concurrently.

On Aug. 27, Coats will appear before Magistrate William A. Knox, who will decide whether to set bond for the drug and gun charges.

Because of his previous narcotics conviction, Coats will face no less than 20 years if convicted on these charges.

Coats is represented by Bryan D. Scheiderer of Scheiderer Law Firm, LC in Rolla.

As in the cases of the other defendants, wiretap, surveillance and witnesses will be used as evidence during the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez said.

Coats was indicted on Jan. 22, along with 15 other people, for allegedly participating in a drug-trafficking conspiracy, illegally possessing firearms, using communication devices for drug trafficking, and participating in drive-by shootings. Their trial date is set for July 20.

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