Drug-dealing preacher sentenced, possibly connected to fatal triple shooting

Drug-dealing preacher sentenced, possibly connected to fatal triple shooting
Source: United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Georgia
Source: United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Georgia
Source: United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Georgia
Source: United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Georgia

RINCON, GA (WTOC) - A judge sentenced a preacher to 10 years in federal prison for trafficking drugs and having guns in his Rincon home, and the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Georgia said he recruited his son, who died in a September triple shooting in Clyo, to sell illegal drugs for him.

United States District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced 44-year-old Cedric Manior, also known as "Preacher Man," to 10 years in prison Friday after being convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine and to being a felon in possession of firearms.

"This is a group as a whole that just involved a lot of dangerous people," said Gene Harley, assistant deputy director of the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT). "People who were simply benefitting from poisoning our communities and who were making a very good profit from doing so."

The U.S. Attorney's office said Manior was part of a "major drug trafficking organization" and said he stored and sold drugs from his home.

During a 2017 search of his home, Harley said CNT and Savannah SWAT found of drugs and evidence Manior was distributing those drugs in large quantities.

"This was an organization that we have no doubt was distributing large amounts and various types of controlled substance throughout Chatham and Effingham Counties," Harley said. "Crack and powder cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, as well as marijuana."

Source: United States Attorney's Office Southern District of Georgia

They also found 20 guns, AR-style magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition inside the home. Agents found a loaded semi-automatic pistol on his bed next to his bible and an assault-style weapon with an extended magazine near his church robe.

"Pretty ironic when you think about the totality of everything," Harley said.

Source: United States Attorney's Office Southern District of Georgia

Harley said most of the guns were stolen. Manior was also previously convicted of six separate felonies, so he wasn't supposed to have a gun or ammunition.

"At the end of the day, we tote guns away from felons, and that alone is a huge win for the community," Harley said. "It doesn't take someone in law enforcement to realize violence and drugs go hand-in-hand."

Source: United States Attorney's Office Southern District of Georgia

Harley said CNT doesn't focus its efforts on one or two street dealers. It focuses on investigations to break up organizations, like this one. He said agents try to take out the whole group or at least the top tiers to dismantle it.

"Doing so often identifies that organization's source of supply," he said. "It kind of stops that supply chain, and also it takes out the key members who are really important orchestrating and making those moves."

It also sends a message to other groups committing similar crimes the consequences can be severe, Harley said.

"Our hope is that another would-be drug organization would see this, say, 'Wow, these guys are being serious here,' and would choose not to follow in their footsteps," Harley said. "But make no mistake about it. Should they choose to step in, we'll stand ready to knock them down as well."

United States Attorney Bobby Christine released a similar statement after Manior's sentencing.

"Cedric Manior received a message from the United States government that nobody is above the law," he said in a news release. "Our office is committed to working with local and federal law enforcement to dismantle criminal organizations and to sentence drug dealers to real time in prison."

Manior is one of more than 20 people convicted in this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Harley said most are local to the Coastal Empire.

"Mr. Manior was, again, actively recruiting people, had various people - to include members of his own family - who were involved in the overall conspiracy," Harley said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Manior directed his son, Cameron Edwards, to sell illegal drugs for him. Edwards was killed in a triple shooting in Clyo in September.

His mom, Scherric Edwards, said she doesn't think Cameron's death, his dad or his drugs are connected at all.

Source: United States Attorney's Office Southern District of Georgia

In addition to being a minister with New Beginnings International Outreach Ministry, Manior briefly worked for the city of Rincon Recreation Department from March 5, 2009 - Dec. 29, 2009.

Manior is in the Chatham County Detention Center on a hold from U.S. Marshals as he waits to go to federal prison. Manior will have court supervision for three years after he is released from federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

"One of the great things about investigations like these where we partner with our federal allies, as well as the prosecution phase, is that really that the sentencing can really be maximum and not only take people out of the local area when they're serving their time, but also they can get more time for things that they simply can't get with the state," Harley said. "For example, maybe the gun laws are a little more strict or the drug amounts, etc. Often, what we do in these investigations, we simply meet with both the local and federal prosecutors to kind of see where we get the most bang for the buck. So we want the criminals to know this, like, look, when we come after you, not only are we going and put together a very good case together against you, but we're also going to try to partner with whoever can give us the best sentencing against you. Our goal is to put you away as long as possible with the hope that you come back rehabilitated and will be a productive member of society."

Harley said this was a joint investigation involving CNT, the DEA, the Garden City Police Department, the Rincon Police Department, the Effingham Sheriff's Office, Savannah Police SWAT and the United States Marshals Service. He said the Chatham County District Attorney's office also helped, and the United States Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Georgia prosecuted the case.

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