COLUMBUS, Ohio – A 39-year old Bidwell, Ohio man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court here to dealing and possessing hundreds of grams of deadly fentanyl on a rural property in southern Ohio.
Michael D. Valentine pleaded guilty to all five counts contained in an indictment returned against him in April following a six-month investigation by law enforcement agencies in West Virginia and Ohio. Investigators found that he dealt approximately 141 grams of fentanyl from the rural property and had stored approximately 677 grams more for the purpose of distribution.
Valentine pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, a crime punishable by at least ten years and up to life in prison. Valentine also entered guilty pleas to two counts of dealing 40 grams or more of fentanyl, crimes that carry a penalty of at least five and up to 40 years in prison, distribution of a detectable amount of fentanyl (up to 20 years) and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl (also punishable by at least ten years and up to life in prison). Penalties are listed for reference only.
Valentine entered the guilty pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King. Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Watson, who is presiding over the case, will determine Valentine’s sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division said that the charges stemmed from an investigation begun by the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT) in Charleston, West Virginia who worked with the FBI and Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin to build the case. Assistant United States Attorney Nicole Pakiz is representing the United States in this case.
This investigation was conducted as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) initiative. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.