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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Jan. 9, 2012                   

COLUMBUS MAN SENTENCED TO 84 MONTHS IN PRISON ON ILLEGAL FIREARM POSSESSION AND CRACK DISTRIBUTION CHARGES

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Troy Laron McKnight, 31, of Columbus, was sentenced today to 84 months in prison by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers for distribution of 28 grams or more of crack cocaine and being a felon in possession of firearms.  McKnight pleaded guilty in September 2011.  The defendant admitted that on September 30, 2010, he arrived at the Smokin’ Aces store that was located in Huntington to complete a prearranged drug transaction with an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  The defendant further admitted that he subsequently provided the undercover agent with a large cellophane bag which held 11 smaller cellophane bags that each contained crack cocaine.  McKnight admitted that he sold the quantity of crack cocaine that weighed a total of 34 grams to the undercover agent in exchange for $2,035. 

Also, on December 13, 2010, following a series of telephone calls between the defendant and an undercover ATF agent, McKnight admitted that he and an associate arrived at the Smokin’ Aces store and sold two pistols to the agent in exchange for $375.  McKnight also admitted that he received $100 payment for arranging the firearms transaction.  At the time the firearms transaction, the defendant had been convicted of two felony offenses in the Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County, OH.

This case was prosecuted as part of a yearlong undercover operation that targeted illegal drugs and firearms crimes in the Huntington area. The operation was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and assisted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Huntington Police Department, and various other law enforcement agencies. It was announced to the public in March after a grand jury returned indictments against 55 defendants.

This case is also being brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in the United States by networking existing local programs targeting gun crime.

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Assistant United States Attorney Gregory McVey handled the prosecution. 

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