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The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition

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VOL. 37 | NO. 9 | Friday, March 01, 2013

Grand jury indicts former Nashville businessman

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NASHVILLE (AP) — A federal grand jury indicted a once prominent Nashville businessman with a drug smuggling past on charges of obstruction of justice and being a convicted felon in possession of 16 firearms.

The grand jury returned the five-count indictment Wednesday against 75-year-old Russell Brothers Jr. of Burns, Tenn. Brothers, who back in the '80s piloted planes carrying cocaine for an international drug smuggling ring, has made headlines in recent years.

Last year he belly-landed a small vintage plane at a closed Nashville airport and then ditched the aircraft in the middle of the night before it was discovered by a maintenance worker. He was also in the news a few years ago over a dispute involving a business partner's plane and the $12,000 debt Brothers believed was owed to him.

Brothers could not be reached for comment. It's not clear whether he is being represented by a lawyer at this time.

The indictment says that authorities discovered the firearms in the days after Brothers crash-landed and abandoned the plane last April.

Authorities found a number of firearms in his possession that included rifles, shotguns and handguns, the indictment says. The grand jury also charged Brothers with two counts of obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, he is accused of trying to conceal one of the firearms from police and also lying about what he did in an effort to get someone to testify on his behalf.

Brothers faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of illegal weapon possession, according to the office of Jerry Martin, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. He also faces a possible 20 year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine for each count of obstruction of justice.

In 1988 a jury in Broward County, Fla., convicted Brothers of drug trafficking and racketeering for his role in an international drug trafficking ring that smuggled cocaine from Colombia to south Florida. He wound up serving 11 years on a 60-year prison sentence.