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Auburn man sentenced for smuggling

MOBILE, Ala. - A federal judge sentenced an Auburn man to more than five years in prison Thursday for smuggling cocaine into the United States.

Gary Steven Krist, 61, had pleaded guilty to importing the illegal drugs. He was facing 10 years to life in prison and $4 million in fines, but federal prosecutors had earlier asked for a 25 percent sentence reduction, citing Krist's cooperation with authorities.

Judge Calli Granade added a $200 fine and five years' probation to be served following Krist's 65-month prison term, according to Sharon Kennedy, intake clerk for the Southern District Federal Court.

Krist and Henry Jackson Greeson were arrested in Clear Point, Ala., in March after returning from Colombia in a 40-foot sailboat with almost 39 pounds of cocaine and four illegal immigrants who reportedly paid $6,000 apiece to come to the United States.

Krist also pleaded guilty to a charge of smuggling aliens.

Greeson, scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 31, faces 10 years to life in prison and up to $4 million in fines.

An accused co-conspirator, Antonio Bryan Joseph, pleaded guilty last week to one count of intent to sell, distribute or dispense cocaine. His sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 14.

Police later found an underground cocaine lab on Krist's Auburn property concealed by an above-ground storage shed. The subterranean room is still there, but stays locked up, according to Joan Krist, his wife of 25 years.

"Someone suggested we make it into a tornado shelter, but I'm not going down in there," she said.

No charges were placed against Joan Krist. She describes Krist as "the best husband I could have ever asked for."

"He was kind, he was so good to me," she said. "We had 25 happy years."

In 1968, Krist, a former physician, kidnapped Emory University student Barbara Mackle and buried her alive in Berkeley Lake. Krist collected a $500,000 ransom from her father, a Florida developer, and Mackle was rescued after more than three days underground. Krist was sentenced to life in prison but was granted parole after 10 years.