Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 6, 2013

4 more pill initiative defendants sentenced

by BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — An additional four defendants in the Bluefield Pill Initiative have been sentenced following hearings this week at U.S. District Court in Bluefield, court documents reveal.

Danny Lee Decker, 42, of Mullens, Edgar Junior Ponce, 32, of Oceana, Kathy Burchett, 38, of Welch, and Anthony Lee Madison, 23, of Bluefield, Va., were all sentenced in hearings before Senior Status U.S. District Judge David A. Faber of the Southern District of West Virginia.

Decker had previously pleaded guilty to count 25 of a 51-count federal indictment, admitting that he used a communications facility to commit a drug crime. The court sentenced him to 15 months in prison, and ordered him to pay the court a $100 special assessment.

Ponce had previously pleaded guilty to count 31 of a 51-count federal indictment, admitting to using a communications facility to commit a drug crime. The court sentenced Ponce to a 24-month prison sentence and ordered him to pay a $100 special assessment.

Burchett had previously pleaded guilty to count 23 of a 51-count federal indictment, admitting that she used a communications facility to commit a drug crime. The court sentenced Burchett to an 18-month prison sentence and ordered her to pay a $100 special assessment.

Madison had pleaded guilty to count 22 of a 51-count federal indictment, admitting that he used a communications facility to commit a drug crime. The court sentenced Madison to a 27-month prison sentence and ordered him to pay a $100 special assessment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Miller Bushong represented the government in all four sentencings. Derrick W. Lefler represented Decker, William Bradley Dorsey represented Ponce, John C. Anderson II, represented Burchett and G. Todd Houck represented Madison.

All four cases were part of the Bluefield Pill Initiative, a concerted effort by federal, state and local law enforcement officers to address the region’s illegal distribution of prescription drugs. Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, launched the broad-based crackdown nearly two years ago.

The Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force has conducted the investigations related to the initiative. The task force includes officers of the West Virginia State Police, the sheriffs departments of Wyoming, McDowell and Mercer counties as well as the police departments of Princeton and Bluefield.