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Press Release

Cincinnati Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Distributing Carfentanil that Resulted in Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY. – Robert Lee Shields, 30, of Cincinnati, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Danny C. Reeves to serve two terms of life imprisonment for distribution of carfentanil that resulted in death and serious bodily injury.

Shields was convicted after a jury trial in Lexington in July 2017. The jury found Shields guilty of all counts, including conspiracy to distribute carfentanil, fentanyl and heroin, distribution of carfentanil resulting in death and distribution of carfentanil resulting in serious bodily injury.

Shields co-defendant, Wesley Scott Hamm, was found guilty of the same charges. Hamm was recently sentenced by Judge Reeves to serve terms of imprisonment of 420 months as to each of the counts of distribution resulting in death or serious bodily injury, and 240 months for the conspiracy charge. All counts were ordered to run concurrently.

The charges against both Shields and Hamm resulted from multiple near-fatal overdoses and one fatal overdose in Montgomery County in August 2016. The investigation revealed that the lethal substance was carfentanil, a drug commonly used as a general anesthetic for large animals, such as elephants. It is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.


 “Reducing access to opioids is a top priority for the Department of Justice,” said United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr.  “We are committed to this fight by aggressively prosecuting drug traffickers that spread their poison in our communities.  The sentences imposed should send a strong message that illegally distributing lethal drugs will not be tolerated in the Eastern District of Kentucky.  If you distribute drugs and cause a death, you could spend the rest of your life in prison. I want to commend the federal and local agencies that worked in partnership to investigate this case.  Without their quick action, more lives could have been lost.” 

Under federal law, Hamm must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system which will mean that Shields will serve life for his sentences.

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Christopher D. Evans, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Louisville, Fred Shortridge, Montgomery Co Sheriff and Chief David Charles, Mt. Sterling Police Department. jointly made the announcement today after the sentencing hearing.

Investigators with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, and the Mt. Sterling Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of both Shields and Hamm. Assistant United States Attorney Todd Bradbury represented the United States.

Updated January 26, 2018

Drug Trafficking