CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Three defendants pleaded guilty today in federal court in Charleston, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Roger Lee Lemons, 23, of Charlotte, entered his guilty plea to distribution of hydromorphone. In a separate prosecution, Laron Safford, 41, of Bluefield, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. In another separate prosecution, Tomas Mateo, 41, entered his guilty plea to possession of a weapon by a federal inmate.
U.S. Attorney Stuart commended the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force for the investigations of Lemons and Safford. He also commended the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the investigation of Mateo.
Lemons admitted that on October 31, 2014, he sold hydromorphone pills to a confidential informant working with law enforcement. The drug deal took place in Princeton. Lemons further admitted that he sold hydromorphone pills on three other occasions. Lemons faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on May 1, 2018.
In a separate prosecution, Safford admitted that on September 14, 2017, he possessed two pistols at his residence in Bluefield. Safford was prohibited from possessing any firearms under federal law because of a 1998 felony drug conviction in McDowell County and a 2004 felony drug conviction in Iredell County, North Carolina. Safford also admitted that he sold cocaine to a confidential informant working with law enforcement on four occasions in September 2017. Safford faces up to 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on May 1, 2018.
In another separate prosecution, Mateo, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution at McDowell, admitted that on June 26, 2017, he possessed a handcrafted weapon commonly known as a “shank” in his shoe. The weapon was a piece of plastic, approximately six inches in length and sharpened to a point at one end, with a handle made of thread and tape. Mateo faces up to five years in federal prison when he is sentenced on May 1, 2018.
Assistant United States Attorney John File is responsible for these prosecutions. The plea hearings were held before Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber.
The Safford case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in the United States by networking with existing local programs targeting gun crime. The Lemons and Safford cases are being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.