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Press Release

Wyoming County Man Charged With Distribution Of Fentanyl Resulting In Death And Serious Bodily Injury

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

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that James Eugene Rought, age 30, of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, was indicted on October 16, 2018, by a federal grand jury for drug distribution resulting in death and serious bodily injury. The case was unsealed following Rought’s initial appearance.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that on or about August 16, 2018, Rought knowingly and intentionally distributed and possessed with intent to distribute fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance, causing the death of one person and serious bodily injury to another. 

The charges stem from a joint investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Scranton, the Wyoming County District Attorney’s Office, and the Wyoming County Detectives.  United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski 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. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 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 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.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute for drug distribution resulting in death is life imprisonment.  The maximum penalty for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is 20 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine. 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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Updated November 6, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods