Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on Friday, April 15, 2022, against Defendant Joe L. Fletcher III, 33, of Akron, Ohio, following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr., in Cleveland. Fletcher was convicted of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Fletcher is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to prior felony convictions in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas and in the United States District Court in the Northern District of Ohio.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, on June 24, 2020, law enforcement officers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol attempted to stop a vehicle Fletcher was driving on Interstate 77 in Copley, Ohio. Fletcher refused to stop and led Troopers on a high-speed chase, reaching speeds of more than 110 miles per hour.
During the pursuit, Fletcher ran from his vehicle into a wooded swamp area. Fletcher used his cell phone to stream his flight live over the internet, during which he threatened to shoot law enforcement. After his arrest, authorities recovered approximately 40 grams of crack cocaine in the wooded area and a loaded, AK-style, semiautomatic rifle from Fletcher’s vehicle.
Fletcher is scheduled to be sentenced on August 9, 2022, and faces a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Ohio-Northeast Smuggling Enforcement Team (ONSET) task force; the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the Copley Police Department; and the Akron Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter E. Daly and Aaron P. Howell.