By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Another defendant who was arrested as part of an on-going law enforcement effort into fighting prescription drug abuse in southern West Virginia, dubbed the Bluefield Pill Initiative, as sentenced to a long prison term after pleading guilty to selling prescription drugs.
Andrae Cortez Simmons, 38, of Princeton plead guilty on Aug. 2, to a 1-count federal indictment charging him with distribution of 40 oxymorphone pills, also known as “Opana.” U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger of the Southern District of West Virginia sentenced Simmons to 72 months (6 years) in prison during his sentencing Thursday afternoon at U.S. District Court in Beckley.
When he entered his plea, Simmons was the 24th defendant convicted as part of the initiative that has targeted the prescription drug trade in southern West Virginia. State, county, local and federal law enforcement officers responded to concerns raised in the community following the death of, Matthew Flack, a popular Bluefield teenager who was shot and killed during a home invasion on Jan. 29, 2011.
The Southern Regional Drug & Violent Crime Task Force, made up of officers from the Bluefield and Princeton police departments, deputies from the Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming county sheriffs departments and the West Virginia State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney John L. File represented the government at the sentencing hearing.
The indictment charged Simmons with selling the pills to an individual who was cooperating with law enforcement on Feb. 14. When he entered his plea, Simmons was the 23th defendant convicted as part of the initiative that has targeted the illegal prescription drug trade in the area.