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Justice News

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

Five defendants plead guilty for roles in federal heroin conspiracy

Comprehensive drug investigation led to the indictment of nearly a dozen defendants, all of whom have now pled guilty

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Five defendants implicated in a federal heroin conspiracy pled guilty today, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Ralph White, Jennifer Benson, Rachel Kuhn, all 36 and of Parkersburg, and Dennis Carter, 28, of Detroit, entered their guilty pleas to conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. Additionally, Heather Wells, 25, of Parkersburg, entered her guilty plea to distribution of heroin.

U.S. Attorney Stuart commended the collaborative investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Parkersburg Drug Task Force, the West Virginia State Police, the Wood County Sheriff’s Department, and the Police Departments of the cities of Parkersburg, Vienna, and Williamstown.

“This is exactly the kind of investigation and prosecution that’s going to help us take back our streets from the opioid crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Stuart. “Nearly a dozen drug criminals are facing hard time behind bars, and all as a result of the efforts of several law enforcement agencies working together. Job well done.”

White, Benson, Kuhn, and Carter admitted to their involvement with several other individuals in distributing heroin at various locations throughout the Parkersburg area. In addition, White, Kuhn, and Wells admitted selling heroin to a confidential informant working with the Parkersburg Drug Task Force and the FBI on numerous occasions between November 2016 and March 2017. Benson and Carter admitted distributing between one and three kilograms of heroin, while White and Kuhn admitted to distributing between 100 and 400 grams of heroin.

White, Benson, Kuhn, and Carter all face at least five and up to 40 years in federal prison when they are sentenced on May 7, 2018. Wells faces up to 20 years imprisonment when she is sentenced on the same date.

The five defendant who pled guilty today join Debra Martin, Joseph Reeder-Shaw, Bernard Spann, Jonathan Brown, and Sir Pritis Williams, all codefendants involved in the same conspiracy, who previously pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. These defendants face at least five and up to 40 years in federal prison when they are sentenced in April 2018. Additionally, Kennedy Michele Walker previously pled guilty to distributing heroin supplied by this organization, and she faces up to 20 years imprisonment when she is sentenced in April 2018.

Assistant United States Attorney John Frail is in charge of these prosecutions. The plea hearings were held before United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District. 

Drug Trafficking
Updated February 12, 2018