Published August 30. 2013 4:45PM Updated August 30. 2013 11:49PM
A traffic stop in rural South Carolina led to another four years in federal prison for a former Ledyard resident on probation after serving time for his involvement in a major cocaine distribution ring.
The case against Anthony "Tony" Morse, 35, is laid out in an Aug. 28 memorandum of decision written by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson, who ruled that Morse had violated the terms of his release in several ways, including traveling out of state without permission and taking part in drug trafficking activities.
Morse, who was living most recently in Kissimmee, Fla., was initially sentenced in January 2010 to 72 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.
He was released in September 2011 and assigned to a Florida probation officer. Under the terms of his release, he was ordered not to travel out of state without permission from the court or his probation officer and to obey all laws.
In January 2012, Morse drove to Connecticut to drop off his children, who live here with their mother. He was driving back to Florida with two other men when a police sergeant from the Hampton County Sheriff's office pulled them over for speeding in Yemassee, S.C.
With dashboard camera running, the sergeant patted down Morse and found $3,000 of cash on his person, which Morse said was for traveling expenses. Given permission to search the car, the sergeant found three larger bundles of cash, vacuum-sealed, behind the plastic molding near a cup holder in the back seat.
Though another passenger told the sergeant it was his money, the sergeant said the man did not know where it was until he consulted with Morse and did not know how much money it was until Morse told him, "veintiocho," which is Spanish for 28. The police took the bundles to a local bank for counting and learned they contained $28,000, the same amount for which Morse had previously sold a kilo of cocaine.
While Morse said he had traveled out of state just one time, investigators using a computer software program were able to determine the phone's signal hit towers from Connecticut to Florida on three other occasions during December 2011.
The investigation also showed that Morse had placed 150 phone calls that month to Juan "Johny" Hernandez, 29, of Mystic. Hernandez was one of the main targets of a major drug sweep in April and is accused of traveling to Puerto Rico every couple of weeks to get cocaine and mailing the drugs to the New London area for redistribution.