The feds were onto him.
By the time he hired a limousine bound for Texas with $185,000 cash in tow, cops were tailing him. They were listening to his phone calls.
James E. Maxwell Jr.’s trip west in that white limo three years ago this month, authorities now say, was to pay for marijuana — a lot of it.
He had been paroled from federal prison just four years earlier after serving a six-year stretch on drug charges, but now he was back in the game.
As it turns out, Maxwell, a Macon rap singer of some renown whose stage name is Sonny Spoon, would become a top dog in a local drug ring that reached as far as the West Coast to supply its customers.
Meanwhile, he presented himself as a model of reform. He encouraged local youths to stay on the straight and narrow. He headlined a Crimestoppers campaign, “Rhyme Against Crime,” which inspired kids to write their own rap songs.
But the singer’s seemingly back-on-track life was soon back to humming its unlawful tune.
In mid-October 2014, with all that cash in tow, his limo didn’t get far. It didn’t get out of Georgia before investigators pulled it over between Macon and Columbus. They searched it and seized the money.
From there, the government’s sting operation, dubbed “Makon Money,” picked up steam.
Before it was over, more than 30 people would be implicated in a ring that was said to have funneled a ton or more of marijuana into the area between 2012 and 2014.
In U.S. District Court in Macon on Wednesday, Maxwell, 44, pleaded guilty to marijuana-distribution charges. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
His plea agreement describes some Maxwell’s drug dealings at his Dollyhood Recording studio in west Macon.
Housed in a tiny brick hut at the corner of Columbus and Bishop Roads just east of Interstate 475, the studio was said to be at times a meeting place for some of the marijuana exchanges Maxwell oversaw.
The Dollyhood logo deems it the “Hollywood of The South.”
Now, though, what with Maxwell’s star having fallen, it wasn’t clear what would become of the label.
As Michael J. Moore, the former U.S. Attorney here, put it when Maxwell’s latest misdeeds came to light publicly two years ago, “He’s going to face the music.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.