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Press Release

Fentanyl-Related Overdose Death Leads to 20-Year Sentence for Drug Dealer

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

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A South Hill, Virginia man, who continued dealing heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl from a regional jail, was sentenced this week to 20 years in federal prison.

Michael Watkins Hayer, 41, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty in October 2022 to a two-count Information charging him with distribution of fentanyl resulting in death and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to court documents, Hayer began selling fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine throughout Greene and Albemarle counties in 2019, as well as routinely traveling to North Carolina to purchase drugs by the “brick” for resale in Virginia.  Hayer used the term “brick” to refer to a package of 50 individual doses of fentanyl.

After a customer overdosed in front of him, Hayer began carrying Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment, when he sold drugs.

On February 18, 2022, Hayer sold a half-brick of fentanyl to an individual who ingested the drug and later died of an overdose.  Although he left Greene County to avoid suspicion after this death occurred, Hayer was stopped by the Virginia State Police while speeding in Greene County in April 2022.  During the traffic stop, Virginia State Police searched Hayer’s vehicle where they discovered 95 grams of methamphetamine, 50 grams of fentanyl, three firearms, and multiple rounds of ammunition.  Hayer is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a previous felony conviction.

While incarcerated at the Central Virginia Regional Jail from April 2022 through June 2022, Hayer continued to sell drugs by recruiting both a male relative as well as an ex-girlfriend and instructing them in how to engage in drug trafficking.

Specifically, Hayer told them where to go in North Carolina to meet his drug suppliers, as well as  where and who to sell drugs to in Greene County.

In addition, Hayer warned both individuals of the dangerous nature of fentanyl by telling them to not touch the drug without wearing gloves and to never use fentanyl themselves.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh and Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Richmond Division made the announcement today.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case with assistance from the Virginia State Police.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melanie Smith and Sean Welsh prosecuted the case.

Updated March 29, 2023