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Press Release

Fitzgerald man Pleads Guilty To Selling Meth

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia
25+ Grams Found On Defendant In Undercover Operation

Albany – A Fitzgerald man, just released from prison after serving ten years for manslaughter, pled guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in Albany federal court Monday, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Billy Ray Stafford, 37, of Fitzgerald, Georgia entered a guilty plea before The Honorable Leslie J. Abrams on December 10, 2018. The offense carries a maximum possible sentence of twenty (20) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000,000.  A sentencing date has not yet been set in the case.

According to the plea agreement, investigators with the Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office received information from a Confidential Informant (CI) about Mr. Stafford selling methamphetamine and marijuana from The Garden Inn Motel in Fitzgerald. On February 9, 2018, the CI purchased $50 worth of methamphetamine from Mr. Stafford inside a Garden Inn motel room. Later that day, agents executed a search warrant for that same room. Mr. Stafford exited the room in possession of a bag he attempted to hide in some brush outside the motel, which was caught on motel surveillance video. Agents recovered the bag and found about $3300 cash, including money given to the CI for the earlier buy, and multiple bags of meth and marijuana. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic chemist tested the meth to weigh 25.9 grams and contain 71.5% pure methamphetamine.

Later Mr. Stafford told investigators, in a video-recorded statement, that he had recently been released from prison after serving ten years on a manslaughter conviction. He said working conditions at his former employer were bad, and the pay was low, so he quit to make money selling meth.

“Our citizens expect people to make an honest living.  Trying to make quick money selling meth on our streets goes against the values of our citizens,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “This kind of illegal drug trafficking is costing our communities too much, with people paying the ultimate price with their lives. We pledge to stand with our law enforcement colleagues within the Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office and across the state as we continue to fight illegal meth distribution.”

This case was investigated by the Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Leah E. McEwen prosecuted the case for the United States.

Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

Updated December 12, 2018

Drug Trafficking