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Press Release

Wilson Drug Trafficker Sentenced After Conviction for Deadly Heroin Distribution

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

NEW BERN – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that in federal court yesterday, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan, sentenced ELTON WAYNE WALSTON, age 66, of Wilson, to 324 months imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release.


On June 22, 2017, WALSTON was found guilty of one count of distributing heroin that resulted in the death of a Wilson, N.C. man, one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition, and four counts of distribution of heroin. 


In 2015, the Wilson Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Raleigh, North Carolina, identified WALSTON as a source of heroin in the Wilson, Greenville, and Nash County areas.  Investigation confirmed that the defendant sold heroin on multiple occasions including a sale that led to the death of a Wilson man, in March of 2015.


SARAH ANNE MOLLENHAUER, 32, of Anthem, Arizona was also sentenced to 45 months of imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release.  MOLLENHAUER pled guilty to a Superseding Criminal Information on November 15, 2016 that charged her with Distribution of a Quantity of Heroin and Aiding and Abetting.


The evidence presented at the same trial revealed that on March 27, 2015, MOLLENHAUER notified the mother of the man who died that her son was not breathing and that he was at his brother’s residence on Dover Road in Wilson. At the scene, officers located and questioned MOLLENHAUER.  Specifically, MOLLENHAUER advised that she and the victim “hung out” on the evening of March 26, 2015. Furthermore, MOLLENHAUER advised that she left the victim around 12:30am on March 27, 2015, to meet her boyfriend.  MOLLENHAUER returned to the residence with her boyfriend, a nurse, to check on the victim who was lying on the floor with his eyes closed and breathing heavily.  MOLLENHAUER and her boyfriend left the residence at 1:30am. MOLLENHAUER indicated she returned at 5:30am to again check on the victim’s condition.  At that time, she found the victim lying on the bathroom floor and not breathing.  He was pronounced dead on the scene by responding EMS personnel at 6:21 am.


“Heroin and other opioids are a deadly plague across our country.  Our office - along with the entire U.S. Department of Justice - is determined to hold accountable those who deal these deadly drugs to enrich themselves.  This prosecution is an example of that determination,” said Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.


“This guilty verdict is a victory for law enforcement and the citizens of North Carolina.  DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice those who prey on individuals who are unfortunately addicted to this poison.  Hopefully, this verdict, will bring some comfort to the families impacted by Mr. Walston’s illegal activities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel R. Salter.


The case was investigated by the DEA Raleigh Resident Office, Wilson Police Department, North Carolina State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations Crime Lab, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).  The federal prosecution was handled by Special Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin O. Zellinger and Assistant United States Attorney Edward D. Gray.  Mr. Zellinger is a prosecutor with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.  Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has assigned Mr. Zellinger to the United States Attorney’s Office, pursuant to funding provided by the state of North Carolina as allocated by the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, to prosecute federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force criminal matters.    

Updated October 31, 2017

Drug Trafficking