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OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA

William J. Ihlenfeld, II
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY


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

February 24, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Three Individuals Enter Pleas of Guilty
in Federal Court

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA - Three individuals entered pleas of guilty this week in United States District Court in Wheeling before Judge Frederick P. Stamp.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that:

BENJAMIN EDWARDS, age 40, of Winston Salem, North Carolina, and formerly of Wheeling, West Virginia, entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine from March 24, 2011, to April 6, 2011, in Wheeling. EDWARDS, who is in custody pending sentencing, faces a maximum exposure of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Parr and was investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug & Violent Crime Task Force, consisting of officers from the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

MARCELINO GAITAN-WALTER, age 27, of Newell, West Virginia, a jockey who raced at the Mountaineer Racetrack, entered a plea of guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in Hancock County and elsewhere. As part of his plea, GAITAN-WALTER admitted he was involved in the distribution of 11 to 15 ounces of cocaine, with a street value of between $20,000 and $40,000. GAITAN-WALTER, who is in custody pending sentencing, faces a maximum exposure of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000. GAITAN-WALTER, a Panamanian citizen also faces deportation.

GREGORY A. VIRDEN, JR., age 21, of Chester, West Virginia, entered a plea of guilty to one count of distribution of cocaine on February 16, 2011, in Hancock County. VIRDEN, who is on bond pending sentencing, faces a maximum exposure of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr and was investigated by the West Virginia State Police-Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

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