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ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA – Three Hardy and Grant County residents are facing fentanyl and firearms charges after a grand jury in Wheeling indicted them in October, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Joshua Allen Hinkle, 35, of Cabins, West Virginia, is charged with one count of “Conspiracy to Distribute at Least 40 Grams of Fentanyl” and one count of “Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl.” 

Cassie Leigh Kesner, 26, of Moorefield, West Virginia, is charged with one count of “Conspiracy to Distribute at Least 40 Grams of Fentanyl,” one count of “Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl,” and one count of “Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Crime.”

Bryan Edward Summerton, 34, of Petersburg, West Virginia, is charged with one count of “Conspiracy to Distribute at Least 40 Grams of Fentanyl” and one count of “Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Crime.”

The three are accused of working together to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl in April 2020 in Grant County and elsewhere. Kesner and Sumerton are accused of having firearms during at least one drug trafficking crime.

Hinkle, Kesner, and Summerton each face at least five years and up to 40 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000,000 for the conspiracy charge. Hinkle also faces up to 20 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000 for the possession of fentanyl charge. Kesner also faces up to 20 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000 for the possession of fentanyl charge and faces at least five years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for the firearms charge. Summerton also faces at least five years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for the firearms charge. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Potomac Highlands Drug Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office investigated.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.            

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

MIL Security OSI