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Press Release

Multiple defendants plead guilty in Charleston to Federal crimes

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Three defendants appeared in Charleston today and pleaded guilty to federal charges, announced Acting United States Attorney Carol Casto.

Ronald Sayles, 39, of Charleston, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Sayles admitted that in December 2014, he possessed two handguns, a Taurus .32 caliber pistol and a Ruger 9 mm pistol, at his Charleston residence. Charleston Police Department officers discovered the guns while executing a search warrant on December 7, 2014. Sayles was prohibited from possessing any firearm under federal law because of a 2002 felony drug conviction in Kanawha County Circuit Court. Sayles faces up to 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on October 20, 2016.

Howard Williamson, 55, of Madison, entered his guilty plea to distribution of oxycodone. Williamson admitted that on July 23, 2015, and again on October 25, 2015, he sold oxycodone pills to a confidential informant working with law enforcement. Williamson further admitted that the drug deals took place at his Madison residence. Williamson faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on November 2, 2016.

Tyruss Jackson, 34, pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon while an inmate of a federal prison. Jackson admitted that on September 18, 2015, he possessed a handcrafted knife while he was serving time in the Federal Correctional Institution at McDowell. The handcrafted wooden weapon, commonly referred to as a “shank,” was sharpened to a point, measured slightly over six inches in length, had tape wrapped around one end to serve as a handle, and a had a string tied to the handle to serve as a lanyard. A Bureau of Prisons staff member discovered the item concealed in Jackson’s pants. Jackson is scheduled to be sentenced on August 30, 2016. He faces a year and two months in federal prison to be served after he completes his current undischarged sentence.

The Charleston Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation of Sayles. Assistant United States Attorney John J. Frail is handling the prosecution of Sayles. The plea hearing for Sayles was held before United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

The Route 119 Drug Task Force conducted the investigation of Williamson. Assistant United States Attorney John J. Frail is responsible for the prosecution of Williamson. The Williamson plea hearing was held before United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston.

The case against Jackson was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Assistant United States Attorney John L. File is in charge of the prosecution of Jackson. The Jackson plea hearing was held before Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber.

The case against Sayles was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in the United States by networking existing local programs targeting gun crime.

The Williamson case was 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 illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District.

Updated July 27, 2016

Drug Trafficking
Project Safe Neighborhoods