Accused cocaine trafficker in court - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Accused cocaine trafficker in court

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A man known as the "Big Cheese" is waiting to hear how much time he'll spend in prison. James Michael Barber pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug conspiracy charges.

Federal prosecutors said he was part of a local cocaine trafficking operation.

Barber is facing life in prison but he struck a deal with prosecutors in the hopes of a lesser sentence.

Big Cheese in federal court was asked by the judge if he was guilty of the drug conspiracy charge for selling crack and cocaine.  Barber answered, "Yes, I am."

He was arrested with nine men in September 2013.  Law enforcement said Barber and the others sold drugs in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties for more than a decade. The judge explained that because of Barber's prior felony convictions he now faces is life in prison. 

But the federal prosecutor said she was willing to waive the prior felonies reducing Barber's sentence to 10 years to life.

A judge is not bound by the plea deal, which means even if the judge sentences him to life, Barber can't appeal or fight the penalty.

Big cheese waived his right to a trial, pleaded guilty.  His next steps are a pre-sentencing interview and then sentencing.

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