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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

March 15, 2011

Another Saunders’ Co-Conspirator Enters
Guilty Pleas to Drug Charges

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA - Another co-conspirator of Robert “R.J.” Saunders entered guilty pleas on March 14, 2011, in United States District Court in Wheeling before Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that MICHAEL M. PRICE, age 35, of Pataskala, Ohio, entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine from at least January of 2005 to August 28, 2009, in the Northern District of West Virginia; and one count of illegal use of a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine on August 4, 2009, in Wheeling.

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 and during monitored communications it was indicated that PRICE would supply Saunders with controlled substances for redistribution. The investigation revealed that PRICE was involved in the distribution of 500 to 1,000 grams of cocaine, as well as 20 to 50 pounds of marijuana.

PRICE, who is on bond pending sentencing, faces a maximum exposure of 5 to 40 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000,000 on the conspiracy count and four years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on the communication count.

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

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