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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Monday, April 29, 2019

Luzerne County Man Guilty Of Drug Distribution Resulting In Death

SCRANTON—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Rodney Williams, age 36, of Wilkes-Barre, pleaded guilty on April 26, 2019, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo, to distributing fentanyl to another person that resulted in the death of that person.   

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Williams admitted to supplying fentanyl to a drug customer on or about December 17, 2017, and the customer subsequently died as a result of ingesting the fentanyl in Kingston, Pennsylvania. Police found the deceased’s body on December 19, 2017.

Judge Caputo ordered a presentence investigation to be completed and scheduled sentencing for July 17, 2019.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Kingston Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case was also brought as part of a district wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin.  Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Heroin Initiative targets heroin traffickers operating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and is part of a coordinated effort among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit heroin related offenses.         

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offenses is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. There is also a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.


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Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated April 29, 2019