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WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – U.S. Attorney Bill Powell is applauding the efforts of his staff, as well as law enforcement partners in the Northern District of West Virginia, for a highly-productive year, despite the pandemic.

The District saw a 27% increase in the number of criminal matters received for consideration, with charges brought against 300 defendants. Of the 300, 42% were drug related.

“Notwithstanding a pandemic our office concluded several major investigations.  Our Assistant US Attorneys, support staff and law enforcement partners excelled and overcame the many obstacles incident to a public health crisis.  Our office prosecutes more than its share of criminal offenses, but also has highly skilled civil lawyers and staff who protect government agencies in court and protect our tax dollars.” said Powell.

Some of the more notable cases in 2020 included the guilty plea of Reta Mays, who admitted murdering seven veterans and the assault of an 8th victim at the VA hospital in Clarksburg; the indictment of four men involved in the murders of three individuals, one of whom was kidnapped and taken across state lines in the Eastern Panhandle; and the guilty plea of Elizabeth Shirley, who admitted to kidnapping her daughter and retaining top secret national defense documents. (See links below.)

There were also several large-scale drug distribution operations that were dismantled, thanks to the good work of the District’s drug task forces, including the case of Jennifer Cuffman and 25 other defendants. The Cuffman case involved alleged traffickers from other states and West Virginia, trafficking drugs on Wheeling Island and the surrounding area. Read more here:

Earlier this year in In Morgantown, U.S. Attorney Powell announced that 25 people were charged in a drug trafficking operation that spanned from Mexico to California to Texas to West Virginia. Learn more about that case here:

A large multi-state drug trafficking operation was halted after charges were filed in September. The “19th Street Enterprise” case was announced at a press conference in Martinsburg. The case involved 22 people from Philadelphia, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia. For more:

The District also successfully garnered a $50 million settlement with Wheeling Hospital, Inc., involving allegations concerning improper compensation to referring physicians.

“In addition to the more publicized cases, many violent crimes, firearm offenses, child pornography, tax fraud, election fraud, health care fraud, among other crimes were prosecuted this past year.  Numerous civil enforcements actions and prison litigation matters were also successfully concluded.  The citizens of the Northern District of West Virginia were always the paramount concern of our office, and we are proud of our work on behalf of those citizens,” continued Powell.  

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s office and press, go to

Hear from U.S. Attorney Powell here:

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