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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Jan. 30, 2012                   

HUNTINGTON MAN SENTENCED TO 260 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ILLEGAL FIREARM POSSESSION AND CRACK COCAINE DISTRIBUTION 

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Ernest James Johnson, 37, of Huntington, was sentenced today to 260 months in prison by United States District Judge for illegal gun possession and distribution of crack cocaine.  In September, a jury sitting in Huntington found the defendant guilty of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.  The firearm charge was the sole count remaining of a 12-count indictment against the defendant.  Johnson previously pleaded guilty in August to 11 counts of a 12-count indictment for distribution of crack cocaine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The defendant did not enter a plea agreement based on the charges at the time.  Johnson previously admitted that on July 7, 2009, he distributed crack cocaine on three separate occasions to undercover agents with the West Virginia State Police and the Huntington Violent Crimes and Drug Task Force.  The defendant also admitted that between May 11, 2010 and July 2, 2010, he distributed crack cocaine on seven separate occasions to undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  On June 29, 2010, Johnson was found to be in possession of a .32 caliber pistol.  Evidence presented at trial proved that, on June 29, 2010, Johnson not only possessed the firearm as a convicted felon, but also during and in relation to a crack distribution that occurred at that same time.

The defendant was prohibited from possessing a firearm based on a prior felony conviction of burglary and indecent behavior with a minor in Louisiana and first-degree robbery in Cabell County, W.Va.            

This case was investigated by the West Virginia State Police, the Huntington Police Department, the Huntington Violent Crimes and Drug Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Assistant United States Attorney Joseph F. Adams handled the prosecution.

This case is being 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.

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