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Press Release

Seventh Defendant Sentenced in Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl in Northern Kentucky

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

COVINGTON, Ky. A Cincinnati, Ohio man, Edvey L. Belton, 32, was sentenced in federal court on Thursday, to 216 months in prison, by U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning, for conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of a substance containing fentanyl.

According to his plea agreement and other court documents, Belton conspired with Elmer Toler, Virgil Blake Daugherty, Michael Leonhardt, Lauren Smith, Natisha Sanford, Britni Ettleman, and others to distribute more than a kilogram of fentanyl between June 2018 and December 2018. Belton agreed that he supplied the fentanyl that was ultimately distributed by the members of the conspiracy and that he carried a firearm while participating in the conspiracy. Belton was previously convicted for Trafficking in Heroin from Ohio in 2011.

Belton is the last defendant to be sentenced in this conspiracy. The sentencings for six other defendants are as follows:

  • Lauren Smith- 42 months and 3 years of supervised release
  • Michael Leonhardt- 50 months and 5 years of supervised release
  • Britni Ettleman- 60 months and 4 years of supervised release
  • Natisha Sanford- 78 months and 5 months of supervised release
  • Virgil Blake Daugherty- 96 months and 5 years of supervised release         
  • Elmer Wayne Toler- 138 months and 8 years of supervised release           

Under federal law, Belton and his co-defendants must serve 85 percent of their prison sentence. Belton will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for 10 years after completion of his prison term.

“Our Office is committed, along with our law enforcement partners, to holding accountable those individuals who distribute fentanyl and other lethal poisons in our neighborhoods. The defendants, through their conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, helped further addictions and spread misery in Covington and throughout Northern Kentucky,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “The lengthy sentences imposed underscore the seriousness of the crimes committed and should send a clear message – if you are caught distributing deadly drugs in the Eastern District of Kentucky you will face significant prison time for your criminal conduct.”       

U.S. Attorney Duncan; James Robert Brown, Special Agent in Charge for FBI, Louisville Field Division, and Rob Nader, Chief of the Covington Police Department, jointly made the announcement. 

The investigation was directed by the FBI and the Covington Police Department. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Bracke.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at

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CONTACT: Gabrielle Dudgeon
PHONE: (859) 685-4887

Updated March 5, 2020