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Press Release

Repeat Gastonia Drug Trafficker Is Found Guilty Of Drug Distribution

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina
The Defendant Was on Federal Supervised Release for Prior Drug Conviction

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal jury in Charlotte delivered a guilty verdict against Kenter O’Neal Ruff, 43, of Gastonia, N.C., for drug distribution, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. presided over the three-day trial which ended today.

Michael C. Scherck, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Interim Chief Trent Conrad of the Gastonia Police Department join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to filed court documents, evidence introduced at trial and witness testimony, over the course of an investigation into drug trafficking in Gaston County, law enforcement identified Ruff as a local drug distributor. According to trial evidence, on multiple occasions between October 2020 and April 2021, Ruff sold cocaine base to an individual cooperating with law enforcement. At the time, Ruff was on supervised release stemming from a prior federal drug conviction and had additional state convictions related to drug trafficking and drug possession.

The federal jury convicted Ruff of four counts of distribution of cocaine base. Ruff remains in federal custody. A sentencing date has not been set.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles criminal organizations using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

U.S. Attorney King thanked the FBI and the Gastonia Police Department for their investigation of the case.

Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Kent and Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte and Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) William Wiseman are prosecuting the case. Mr. Wiseman is a state prosecutor with the office of the 26th Prosecutorial District and was assigned by District Attorney Spencer Merriweather to serve as a SAUSA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte. Mr. Wiseman is sworn in both state and federal courts. The SAUSA position is a reflection of the partnership between the office of the 26th Prosecutorial District and the United States Attorney’s Office. 


Updated January 5, 2023

Drug Trafficking