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William J. Ihlenfeld, II

1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Fawn E. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist


December 1, 2010


Wheeling Resident Sentenced to 6-1/2 Years
on Drug Charge

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA - A 39 year old Wheeling, West Virginia, resident was sentenced on November 30, 2010, in United States District Court in Wheeling by Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that ROBERT LEE SAUNDERS, also known as “R.J.,” was sentenced to 78 months imprisonment to be followed by five years supervised release for being the leader and organizer of the cocaine and marijuana organization which had been operating in Wheeling since at least 2005. The Court made a specific finding that SAUNDERS was the leader of the organization, of which five others have already pled guilty to federal felonies. The effect of the finding resulted in SAUNDERS sentence being increased by 27 months.

SAUNDERS entered a plea of guilty on August 11, 2010, to one count of an Indictment charging him with the conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana from at least January of 2005 to August 28, 2009, in the Northern District of West Virginia and elsewhere.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force conducted an investigation over a two year period into the cocaine and marijuana conspiracy activities of SAUNDERS and his associates. As part of his plea, SAUNDERS admitted to distributing more than eight pounds of cocaine, as well as 100 pounds of marijuana between 2005 and 2009. Those drugs had a street value of more than $500,000.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, commented “this investigation demonstrates to the Wheeling community the determination and dedication of the agents, who confronted with numerous hurdles, found creative ways of accumulating the evidence to totally dismantle a significant drug organization which distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs. Their actions show the resolve law enforcement has to keep drugs from poisoning our residents and children.”

The investigation is continuing with three other alleged members of the organization pending trial in February, 2011.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr.

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