Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 1:43 PM on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bairamis sentenced to 11 years for dealing meth

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Striking a balance between what prosecutors asked for and the mandatory minimum jail sentence, U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess on Nov. 23 sentenced Homer drug dealer Kostas Bairamis to 11 years in prison for dealing methamphetamines, one year more than the mandatory minimum under federal sentencing guidelines. Federal prosecutors had recommended Bairamis get 18 years.

A federal jury in July convicted Bairamis, 23, of one count of conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams, or 17.5 ounces, of methamphetamine. Burgess also sentenced Bairamis to five years of supervised release after his sentence.

"Bairamis created a very bad problem in a small community, all in the service of feeding his own ego, addictions and thirst for Cadillac Escalades," wrote U.S. Assistant District Attorney Kimberley Sayers-Fay in a sentencing memo recommending the harsher penalty. "The community will be reeling from that for a long time. So should he."

Drug dealers "need to know that if you deal drugs when you're young, you will not emerge from prison until you are (relatively) old," Sayers-Fay wrote.

Bairamis also faces more drug charges. In October, a federal grand jury indicted him on conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and methadone. Also named in the indictment were Kenai Peninsula residents Melissa Cue, 34, B.J. Griffith, 22, and William Gilbert, 25, and Anchorage resident Justin Lane, 23. Bairamis is alleged to have received oxycodone and meth from Cue and Lane and then distributed those drugs to Griffith and Gilbert, who sold it.

Griffith also was indicted for money laundering when he allegedly falsely signed an affidavit saying title was lost to Bairamis' torched 2008 Cadillac Escalade and that Bairamis was the sole owner.

Trial evidence showed Bairamis bought meth from an Anchorage source weekly starting in 2008, first buying in 1-ounce quantities and then later up to 4 and 8 ounce amounts, Fayers-Say said.

In a sentencing memorandum, Sayers-Fay wrote that drug suppliers tried to burn the 2008 Escalade in Anchorage when Bairamis couldn't pay his drug debt. Anchorage police seized the car as part of an arson investigation. Bairamis had signed over the title to Erica Lee, also known as Hye Jeong Lee, to repay her $78,600 for more than a pound of meth Lee fronted him. Bairamis had paid $20,000 to Lee, but when he couldn't pay the rest, fled to Greece for a month. He later returned and repaid Lee by giving her the title to the Escalade. Lee pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2010 and cooperated with law enforcement by turning over the title of the 2008 Escalade to authorities.

In her sentencing memo, Sayers-Fay said Bairamis' career in crime went back to when he was age 10. Between 1998 and 2010, law enforcement contacted Bairamis 217 times, usually as a suspect or arrestee, Sayers-Fay wrote.

Bairamis got his customers and co-dealers addicted to drugs, including one woman who later pleaded guilty to selling drugs to a 16-year-old girl, Sayers-Fay alleged in her memo.

Drug Enforcement Agency agents seized a 2005 Escalade Bairamis was driving in 2008 when stopped by Anchorage police. The woman filed a lawsuit saying she owned the seized Escalade. The woman testified at Bairamis' trial that she only partially paid for the Cadillac.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Alaska, in sentencing remarks, Judge Burgess said Bairamis was disconnected from reality and had an inflated sense of self worth, self importance and entitlement suggesting mental health concerns. Bairamis acted recklessly and endangered his 3-year-old daughter by taking her along on drug transactions, Burgess said. Bairamis also attempted to influence the testimony of a witness against him, Burgess noted — one reason for imposing a sentence a year above the mandatory minimum. The judge directed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to evaluate Bairamis for mental health issues.

Bairamis is still waiting trial on the drug conspiracy charges. If convicted on those charges, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.