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RALEIGH – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announces that today, Richard R. Cephas, of Wilmington, Delaware, was sentenced to 18 months consecutive to the sentence he is currently serving for escaping from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in Butner, North Carolina on or about April 1, 2020. 

In June 2017, Cephas was sentenced by the United States District Court for the District of Delaware to a term of 66 months in federal prison – for his violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 (a)(l) and (b)(l)(A) and 846, Conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine.  The conviction and sentence resulted from a long-term High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) federal wiretap investigation spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Drug Trafficking Task Force in Delaware.  More about that investigation here.

As alleged in the publicly filed affidavit attached to the Criminal Complaint, Cephas had been serving the remainder of his prison sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Butner, NC.  On April 2, 2020, Cephas was placed in an escape status by the BOP following his absence from a bed count conducted by staff at the Butner facility.  At the time of his absence, Cephas was not authorized to be away from the Federal Prison Camp.  On April 20, 2020, Cephas was returned to custody. 

“Several months ago, as the Coronavirus pandemic began, Richard Cephas, a convicted drug trafficker serving a federal prison sentence, tried to take advantage of the situation by using the threat of the pandemic as a way to avoid paying the price of his criminal activity,” said United States Attorney Higdon.  “No one was fooled.  And today the U. S. District Court sent that message loud and clear by adding 18 more months – the maximum allowed under the Federal Sentencing rules – to his drug sentence.  This sends a powerful message to Mr. Cephas and to anyone else who would try to use the virus or any other similar situation as an opportunity to escape justice.”

The United States Marshals Service investigated this case and Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Dodson is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:20-cr-00209-D-1.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at

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