Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 17, 2013

Two mercer residents enter guilty pleas on federal drug charges

BLUEFIELD — Two Mercer County residents pleaded guilty this week to federal drug offenses, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Tuesday.

Goodwin said Kevin “Steptoe” Petty, 36, of Bluefield, pleaded guilty on Sept. 16 to distribution of hydromorphone before Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber in federal court in Bluefield.  On September 20, 2012, Petty sold 10 hydromorphone pills to a person cooperating with law enforcement authorities in exchange for $200, Goodwin said.

The pill transaction occurred in and around Bluefield.

Hydromorphone is a powerful prescription painkiller commonly known as Dilaudid.

In an unrelated matter, Goodwin said Lakeisha Danell Howze, 27, of Princeton, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to simple possession of hydromorphone.  On January 28, 2013, Howze possessed hydromorphone pills without a valid prescription from a doctor or licensed physician, Goodwin said.

The charges against each defendant were brought as part of the Bluefield Pill Initiative, a concerted attack by federal, state, and local government on the illegal distribution of prescription drugs in the southern region of West Virginia.

Goodwin said Petty faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on January 21, 2014.

Howze faces up to a year in federal prison.  She is also scheduled to be sentenced in January.

The West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal investigations conducted the investigations.  Assistant United States Attorney John File is in charge of the prosecutions.

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