Skip to main content
Press Release

Huntington Man Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Scheme Involving Postal Employees

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man who helped organize a scheme to mail marijuana from California to Huntington over a period of several years pleaded guilty today to a federal drug charge, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  James Waylon Molinaro ,43, entered a guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute marijuana in federal court in Huntington.  Molinaro also entered a guilty plea to prohibited possession of a firearm by a felon stemming from an unrelated investigation.  Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the West Virginia State Police – Violent Crime and Drug Task Force West, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Barboursville Police Department.

“Marijuana is and remains illegal under federal law,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “This United States Attorney prosecutes all Federal lawbreakers including marijuana offenses and will continue to do so. The collaborative work of law enforcement agencies in this case got a violent drug dealer -- Molinaro – off the streets.”

On March 15, 2018, agents located two parcels at the Huntington Post Office which had been mailed from the State of California to Huntington which were found to contain marijuana.  Agents conducting surveillance observed a postal employee load the parcels into a postal delivery truck and drive to the Dollar General store located in the 800 block of Norway Avenue in Huntington.  At that location, the postal employee provided the parcels to Molinaro who arrived in a separate vehicle.  A trooper with the West Virginia State Police subsequently conducted a traffic stop of Molinaro’s vehicle in the 1000 block of 9th Street in Huntington and recovered the parcels.  The parcels were found to contain a total of 16 pounds of marijuana which Molinaro admitted that he intended to distribute.

As part of his plea, Molinaro further admitted that between 2012 and March of 2018, he conspired with multiple postal employees to ship marijuana from California to Huntington for distribution.  During the conspiracy, Molinaro acquired marijuana in California and arranged for it to be shipped through the United States mail to Huntington.  Once the parcels arrived in Huntington, Molinaro paid multiple postal employees to deliver the parcels on their assigned delivery routes or to meet Molinaro at other locations to provide the parcels to him.  Molinaro admitted that he was responsible for the shipment and distribution up to 400 kilograms of marijuana during the conspiracy. 

Molinaro also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm on July 29, 2018.  On that date, Molinaro was at a night club on Route 60 in Barboursville when he was asked to leave after a club employee observed him possessing a firearm.  Molinaro exited the club, fired multiple shots in the club’s parking lot, briefly left the scene, and then returned.  A Barboursville police officer responding to a call for assistance at the club subsequently located Molinaro in possession of .38 caliber revolver.  Molinaro was prohibited from possessing a firearm based on multiple prior felony convictions for distribution of cocaine and possession of cannabis for sale. 

Molinaro faces up to 15 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on November 4, 2019.

Assistant United States Attorney Joseph F. Adams is handling the prosecution.  The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Follow us on Twitter: SDWVNews  


Updated July 31, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods