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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mineral County residents indicted on drug distribution and firearms charges

MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Phillip Arnold Bennett and Erica Lucinda Taylor, both of Piedmont, West Virginia, were indicted today by a federal grand jury on drug distribution and firearms charges, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Bennett, age 30, is charged with one count of “Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin, Fentanyl, and Methamphetamine,” one count of “Unlawful Possession of a Firearm,” one count of “Distribution of Methamphetamine,” three counts of “Distribution of Heroin,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl,” two counts of “Aiding and Abetting Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Distribution of Heroin,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Distribution of Fentanyl,” one count of “Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl,” and one count of “Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin.” Bennett is accused of distributing heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine in Mineral County and elsewhere from September 2017 to August 2018. He is also accused of illegally possessing a .380 caliber pistol.

Taylor, age 30, is charged with one count of “Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin, Fentanyl, and Methamphetamine,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl,” two counts of “Aiding and Abetting Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin,” two counts of “Distribution of Heroin,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Distribution of Fentanyl,” and one count of “Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin.”

Bennett faces up to 20 years incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000 for each drug count and up to 10 years incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for the firearms count. Taylor faces up to up to 20 years incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000 for each drug count. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Attorney General’s Office has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, the Attorney General announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara K. Omps-Botteicher is prosecuting the cases on behalf of the government. The Potomac Highlands Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, and the West Virginia State Police investigated. 

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated November 21, 2018