AG partnership with U.S. attorney nets first drug conviction

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 19, 2016

CHARLESTON — The partnership between West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office and U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II has landed its first conviction in northern West Virginia.

Francisco Gaspar Sanchez, 56, of Kearneysville was found guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

In a statement, Morrisey praised the conviction calling it the first fruit of a crucial partnership to reduce drug trafficking and abuse in northern West Virginia.

“I’m very pleased with this week’s conviction,” Morrisey said. “Drug addiction and abuse is rampant statewide. Defeating the epidemic will take everyone working together and this is what can happen when government agencies partner for the common good.”

Thursday’s jury verdict concluded a two-day trial in Martinsburg. Sanchez faces up to 20 years in prison and $1 million fine, although his actual sentence will depend upon federal guidelines that measure the seriousness of his offenses and any prior criminal history.

Evidence indicated Sanchez conspired with another individual to sell crystal methamphetamine in Jefferson County. Specifically, Sanchez was discovered in possession of methamphetamine in April 2014.

Assistant Attorney General Lara Omps-Botteicher led Sanchez’s prosecution in her dual role as a special assistant U.S. attorney. She is one of two lawyers from Attorney General Morrisey’s office who are special assistant U.S. attorneys.

In their federal capacity, these attorneys will handle drug cases with a special emphasis on the prosecution of heroin trafficking organizations.

The partnership also builds upon existing substance abuse prevention and education initiatives targeting West Virginia youth.

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