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Press Release

Berks County Man Sentenced to Fourteen Years in Prison for Narcotics and Firearms Offenses

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

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that George Steve Rugel, 46, of Reading, PA, was sentenced to fourteen years in prison and five years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., for possessing with intent to distribute the dangerous narcotic fentanyl. In addition to the fentanyl, other drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as firearms were found inside the defendant’s Reading apartment that he used as a stash house for his drug distribution activities.

In November 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and one count of possession of a loaded firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The charges stem from an investigation conducted by Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents and Task Force Officers based in New York City and Allentown into Rugel’s distribution of the dangerous narcotics fentanyl, heroin, and other controlled substances in New York City and in the Reading area of Berks County. During the investigation, Rugel delivered fentanyl to individual in New York. When Rugel attempted a second delivery of fentanyl to an individual in Reading in June 2020, he was arrested by DEA Special Agents and Task Force Officers. At the time of his arrest, Rugel was found in possession of approximately one kilogram of fentanyl in his car, and a loaded firearm on his person. The investigation also led to the discovery of Rugel’s apartment in Reading, where he stored additional controlled substances, including another kilogram of fentanyl, and firearms.

“Drug distribution and gun violence are an epidemic in cities like Reading and across the Eastern District, and the federal government is aggressively prosecuting these crimes to get dangerous criminals like this defendant off the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “George Rugel was a large-scale, armed drug trafficker, which put our community in grave danger. We want to thank the DEA and the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, and all of our involved law enforcement partners for their hard work and dedication.”

“Rugel not only trafficked in illicit fentanyl, a dangerous street drug that is largely responsible for the overdose crisis, but also carried a loaded handgun at the same time,” said Thomas Hodnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division.  “His criminal behavior involving both drugs and guns are representative of two of the most pressing threats that are endangering the safety of our communities.”

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration – Allentown Resident Office, Berks County District Attorney’s Office Detectives, and Reading Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mary A. Futcher and Kishan Nair.


615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Updated June 16, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses