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Press Release

Fentanyl-Related Overdose Death Leads to Guilty Plea in Federal Court

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

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A Ruckersville, Virginia man, who dealt heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl even after being incarcerated for his crimes, pled guilty today to dealing a fatal dose of fentanyl and illegally possessing a firearm.

Michael Watkins Hayer, 41, waived his right to be indicted and pled guilty today to a two-count Information charging him with distribution of fentanyl and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

“Fentanyl is everywhere.  Simply put, it is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered.  In Virginia, the number of people dying from drug overdoses is at a record high.   If we want to prevent fentanyl-related overdose deaths, we must take every opportunity to educate our communities about how dangerous it is.  Now more than ever, it is critical to hold accountable those who deal fatal doses thereby contributing to fentanyl’s staggering body count,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “I am grateful for the resolve of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, who sought to bring justice to those affected by this tragedy.”

“With this guilty plea, Mr. Hayer has finally accepted responsibility for his actions,” said FBI Richmond Acting Special Agent in Charge David C. Lewis.  “Fentanyl has the potential to kill just by contact and it is far too dangerous to be sold on the street.  We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and help prosecute those who distribute this dangerous substance.”

“We are always glad when a case involving an overdose is brought to justice and those responsible are held accountable,” Greene County Sheriff Steven S. Smith said today. “The Sherriff’s Office will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies and use every available tool to keep the citizens of Greene County safe.”

According to court documents, Hayer began selling fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine throughout both 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, with him 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 female 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 and where and who to sell drugs to in Greene County.

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

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.

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

Updated April 19, 2023