Madison Co. man facing life in prison after federal jury convicts for trafficking in drugs and guns


Robert Orante Booker

By Joe Johnson

A Madison County man with a lengthy criminal history this week was found guilty by a federal court jury of multiple charges related to an FBI Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force undercover operation into illegal gun and drug trafficking. His conviction follows a co-defendant entering a guilty plea last week in this case.

Robert Booker Sr., 44, of Ivywood Drive in Hull was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute alprazolam, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

The verdict was reached following a two-day trial presided over by S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal, who could possibly sentence the career criminal to life in prison. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

The jury's conviction came a week after a co-defendant. 47-year-old Peter Deandra Lawrence of Athens pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm.

According to U.S Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Peter D. Leary, Lawrence faces a possible life prison sentence because he is an "armed career criminal and career offender."

A third codefendant, 47-year-old Gerrick Lanier Cooper of Watkinsville pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine on May 11. Cooper faces a maximum of 20 years in prison to be followed by at least three years of supervised release and a $1,000,000 fine.

Sentencing for the three defendants had not been scheduled as of Friday.

“Armed career criminals trafficking weapons and dangerous controlled substances will be held accountable at the federal level for crimes that undermine the safety of our communities,” Leary said in a released statement. "Our office is working alongside federal, state and local law enforcement to bring the most violent and repeat offenders to justice for their continued criminal activities.”

Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta Keri Farley added, “Booker refused to learn from his past mistakes and continued to possess firearms and illegal drugs. Now that a jury has passed judgement, our citizens will be safer while he spends significant time in prison,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is proud to work with our partners in the Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force to remove career criminals from our streets.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the case began when two FBI confidential informants (CIs) purchased a .22 caliber rifle from Lawrence in Watkinsville in August 2016.

"Lawrence negotiated the purchase of the firearm with Cooper over his cellphone in the presence of the informants and retrieved the firearm from Cooper to give to the informants at the close of the deal," Leary's news release noted. "Lawrence had previously been convicted of aggravated battery, burglary and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in both state and federal courts,"Leary said in his statement.. "Cooper said that he sold various quantities of cocaine to the CIs on three separate occasions in Jan. 2017 at his Athens residence. Cooper, a convicted felon with a prior federal conviction for possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance, was indicted in this case on July 14, 2020, and a firearm was retrieved at this home when agents executed a search warrant.

On Sept. 22, 2019, a Georgia State Patrol trooper stopped a vehicle with Lawrence driving and Booker in the front passenger seat. Lawrence was driving on a suspended license with an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Athens-Clarke County. As the trooper was dealing with Lawrence, Booker attempted to hide a large quantity of methamphetamine and alprazolam under the vehicle. The drugs under the vehicle were noticed and seized by the trooper. A search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of approximately two pounds of marijuana, oxycodone packaged for illegal distribution and a pistol in the glovebox. Booker has a lengthy criminal history, which includes convictions for obstruction of an officer and three prior serious drug offenses.

The case was investigated by the FBI Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force with assistance from Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol (GSP) and Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

th our partners in the Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force to remove career criminals from our streets.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the case began when two FBI confidential informants (CI) purchased a .22 caliber rifle from Lawrence in Watkinsville, Georgia, on Aug. 17, 2016. Lawrence negotiated the purchase of the firearm with Cooper over his cellphone in the presence of the informants and retrieved the firearm from Cooper to give to the CIs at the close of the deal. Lawrence has previously been convicted of aggravated battery, burglary and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in both state and federal courts; it is illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm. Cooper admitted that he sold various quantities of cocaine to the CIs on three separate occasions in Jan. 2017 at his Athens residence. Cooper, a convicted felon with a prior federal conviction for possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance, was indicted in this case on July 14, 2020, and a firearm was retrieved at this home when agents executed a search warrant.

On Sept. 22, 2019, a GSP trooper stopped a vehicle with Lawrence driving and Booker in the front passenger seat. Lawrence was driving on a suspended license with an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Athens-Clarke County. As the trooper was dealing with Lawrence, Booker attempted to hide a large quantity of methamphetamine and alprazolam under the vehicle. The trooper noticed what was happening and seized the drugs. according to Leary's news release. "A search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of approximately two pounds of marijuana, oxycodone packaged for illegal distribution and a pistol in the glovebox, the prosecutor's statement noted, and added that "Booker has a lengthy criminal history, which includes convictions for obstruction of an officer and three prior serious drug offenses.

The case was investigated by the FBI Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force with assistance from Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.


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