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Press Release

Ohio Man Who Assaulted State Trooper Gets 35-year Federal Prison Sentence

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

Defendant Robin Slater ran one of region’s largest-ever marijuana distribution conspiracies

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – An Ohio drug dealer who assaulted a West Virginia state trooper during a January 2012 traffic stop was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in federal prison for a large-scale marijuana distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.  Robin Earl Slater, 51, of Langsville, Ohio, previously pleaded guilty in August to four federal charges: conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana; possession of firearms in furtherance of a marijuana conspiracy; being a convicted felon in possession of firearms; and obstruction of justice. The massive marijuana conspiracy was discovered in the traffic stop in which Slater attacked the state trooper. Slater’s sentence was handed down by Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers in Huntington.

Slater’s sentence is the longest in recent memory in a marijuana conspiracy case in the Southern District of West Virginia. Slater conspired to distribute between 3,000 and 10,000 kilograms of marijuana by supplying the drug to lower-level dealers in Putnam and Kanawha counties, as well as out of state.  
On January 23, 2012, a West Virginia state trooper followed Slater’s vehicle into a store parking lot in St. Albans, W.Va., after observing the defendant commit several moving violations.  During the traffic stop, Slater, who had six firearms, nearly $25,000 cash, and drug ledgers in his car, made a violent attempt to flee. He bit the state trooper on the arm, inflicting a deep wound, and then pepper sprayed him. Police ultimately were able to restrain Slater and arrest him. The evidence that they recovered from his car allowed them to crack his distribution ring.   

U.S. Attorney Goodwin said, “Mr. Slater’s attack on a state trooper was a brazen and dangerous attempt to protect his drug enterprise.  We’ve seen far too many law enforcement tragedies in situations like this:  routine encounters that quickly turn violent.” Goodwin continued, “Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to keep the rest of us safe. I will continue to spare no effort in prosecuting anyone who attacks them.”

Slater told police that the money he had was from individuals to whom he had supplied marijuana.  Slater also admitted that he possessed firearms to protect himself and the proceeds of his drug activity. 
The defendant had two prior felony drug convictions related to the distribution of marijuana.
Slater was released on bond from his initial state charges prior to being indicted on federal charges.  In August 2012, Slater, while a fugitive on the federal charges, again attempted to flee a traffic stop, led police in Pulaski, Ky., on a high-speed chase over several miles, at one point nearly striking a police officer on the side of the road.

Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers said at sentencing that Slater was a “danger to law enforcement,” and further stated that the severe sentence was, in part, to punish Slater for putting law enforcement at risk – both when he initially assaulted a West Virginia state trooper and when he fled from police at high speeds in Kentucky.

This case 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 West Virginia State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Homeland Security Investigations and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Steven Loew handled the prosecution.

Updated January 7, 2015