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Winchester man pleads guilty to selling dose of fentanyl that led to 2020 death

Crystal Graham

department of justice logo 2023 A Winchester man who sold a fatal dose of fentanyl in October 2020 pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal drug charges.

Kenneth James Hughes Jr., 27, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to two counts of distribution of fentanyl. Law enforcement’s investigation revealed that Hughes sold drugs to a variety of individuals throughout the Western District of Virginia.

According to court documents, Hughes and his suppliers provided fentanyl to a user who died Oct. 23, 2020, due to an overdose. One of Hughes’ customers contacted him in regard to acquiring fentanyl in the form of “pressed pills,” namely, fentanyl pills made to appear like Oxycodone pills. Hughes contacted his supplier and arranged and facilitated a purchase of two pressed pills by the customer from his supplier.

The individual who purchased the pressed pills subsequently consumed the drugs and was found unresponsive the following morning at his home in Winchester. It was determined his death was the result of acute fentanyl intoxication.

Additionally, in November 2020, in Berryville, Hughes sold 22 capsules containing fentanyl for $300 to a confidential informant working on behalf of law enforcement.

Hughes is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19 and faces a sentence of six to 10 years in prison pursuant to a written plea agreement with the United States.

A U.S. District Court judge will determine the final sentence after consideration of the federal sentencing guidelines and the sentencing factors set forth by Congress.

The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, the Winchester Police Department, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Division investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Lee is prosecuting the case.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.