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Magoffin man pleads guilty to federal drug charge

Jesse Murrell

PIKEVILLE – A Magoffin County man took a plea deal in federal court on Thursday, February 29, pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute a quantity of pills containing oxycodone.

Jesse Murrell, 53, is the codefendant in Gregory Howard’s case, who pleaded guilty last month via a plea agreement, as well.

On Thursday, February 29, Murrell entered a guilty plea to count 1 of the indictment, conspiracy to distribute a quantity of pills containing oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance.

Via the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s office asked for the other three charges against Murrell to be dismissed, which was honored in the rearraignment hearing held last Thursday.

According to the plea deal, Murrell agreed that two or more persons conspired, or agreed, to distribute pills containing oxycodone, and that he knowingly and voluntarily joined the conspiracy.

The U.S. argues that they could prove the following facts that establish the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt:

– Between, on or about March 2022 and August 17, 2023, Murrell worked together with a co-conspirator (Howard) to distribute oxycodone pills. Specifically, the co-conspirator would regularly provide Murrell with the pills and he would regularly deliver those pills to customers in Magoffin County.

– On or about May 12, 15 and June 2, 2023, law enforcement used an informant to make controlled purchases of oxycodone pills from Murrell. The last two of those transactions occurred at the co-conspirator’s residence in Magoffin County.

According to the plea agreement, the statutory punishment for the offense is imprisonment of not more than 20 years, a fine of not more than $1 million, and a term of supervised release of at least three years. A mandatory special assessment of $100 applies, and Murrell agreed to pay this assessment during the rearraignment hearing.

No agreement exists between Murrell and the U.S. regarding his criminal history and how it pertains to his sentencing, and Murrell will not file a motion for a decrease in the offense level, also waiving the right to appeal, according to the plea agreement.

A sentencing hearing for Murrell is set for June 7, 2024, at 11 a.m. in Lexington, KY. Similarly, Howard is set for sentencing on May 23, at 11 a.m. in Lexington.

Both Murrell and Howard remain in custody at the Pike County Detention Center as they await sentencing.

Editor’s Note: The indictment or charge of a person by a grand jury or otherwise is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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