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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Jan. 9, 2012                   

HUNTINGTON MAN SENTENCED TO 130 MONTHS IN PRISON ON ILLEGAL FIREARM POSSESSION AND CRACK DISTRIBUTION CHARGES

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Kenneth Maurice Ziegler, 40, of Huntington, was sentenced today to 130 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.  Ziegler pleaded guilty in September 2011.  The defendant admitted that on September 10, 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 82.6 grams of crack cocaine in exchange for $4,500. 

Also, on November 30, 2011, the Ziegler contacted an undercover ATF agent concerning firearms that he had for sale.  After a series of telephone calls between the defendant and the undercover agent, Ziegler admitted that he arrived at the Smokin’ Aces store and sold a Remington rifle to the agent in exchange for $900.  At the time the defendant sold the firearm, he was an unlawful user of and addicted to controlled substances.  Ziegler also admitted to participating in a total of 13 drug transactions at the Smokin’ Aces store that involved a total of 300 80-milligram oxycodone tablets and 305 grams of crack cocaine. 

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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