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Press Release

Convicted Sex Offender Sentenced To 23 Years On Drug Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. B U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. sentenced late yesterday Keith Antonio Barnett, 47, of Gastonia, N.C., to 23 years in prison and six years of supervised release on drug conspiracy and related drug charges, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

U.S. Attorney Murray is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division; John Eisert, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charlotte; Chief Robert C. Helton of the Gastonia Police Department; and Chief Joseph D. Ramey of the Gaston County Police Department.

According to filed court documents, the sentencing hearing, and evidence presented at Barnett’s trial, beginning from at least 2016, Barnett was part of a drug conspiracy operating in Gaston County, and was responsible for trafficking more than 280 grams of crack cocaine.  The evidence at trial also established that, in October 2017, while executing a search warrant at a Gaston County residence that was being used as a drug house, law enforcement arrested Barnett, and recovered more than 120 grams of crack cocaine, over 40 grams of cocaine, more than six grams of heroin, and approximately $3,000 in cash. 

A federal jury convicted Barnett in November 2018 of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; distribution and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin.

Barnett received an enhanced sentence because the Court found the defendant made credible threats of violence against witnesses, committed obstruction by testifying falsely at trial, and maintained a premises for distribution of controlled substance.

Barnett has a prior criminal history that includes two convictions for Possession of Crack Cocaine in 1991; Indecent Liberties with a Child in 1997; Criminal Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature in 2006; Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in 2010; and Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in 2013.

Barnett is currently in federal custody. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray credited the FBI and HSI in Charlotte for their investigation of this case, and thanked the Gastonia Police Department and Gaston County Police Department for their invaluable assistance. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven R. Kaufman and Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, are in charge of the prosecution.


Updated July 23, 2019

Drug Trafficking