TAMPA — While a Tampa pastor and his wife were selling religion as a way to get off drugs, three of their adult sons were selling something else: cocaine.
They got caught.
Marvin Jefferson, 47, Shannon Jefferson, 33, and Jimmy Lanier, 37 — each adjudicated guilty of drug trafficking after pleas in June — have now begun to learn their fates in federal court.
The three are the sons and stepson of Deeper Life Christian Church patriarch Melvin B. Jefferson, whose fellow pastor and current wife, Brenda Jefferson, is Lanier’s mother.
Lanier, described by federal agents as the leader of a drug-trafficking organization that at times brought cocaine from Texas to Tampa, could face life in prison when sentenced Aug. 12.
Not so for Marvin Jefferson, who initially faced 10 years but left the courthouse Wednesday a free man, in part because he helped authorities solidify cases against his brothers.
Court records say Lanier conspired to distribute narcotics from about 2002 to 2013.