Two Defendants Plead in Federal Drug Ring Case

Two of the 15 people indicted in February by a federal grand jury in Wheeling pleaded guilty for their part in a prescription pain killer drug ring.

Jordan Sorge, 22, of Wheeling, and Richard W. Hercules, 50, of McMechen, admitted their crimes earlier this month before U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. Sorge faces four years in prison and a $500,000 fine on charges of conspiracy to use a communication facility to facilitate the distribution of controlled substances. Hercules is looking at up to 20 years and a $1 million fine for aiding and abetting the distribution of oxycodone.

They were included in a14-month investigation which culminated in January, first with the arrest of Ritchie Elementary School counselor Kristyn Fetcko and then, days later, alleged pill ring leader Brian Schultz. The drug ring allegedly involved tens of thousands of prescription painkillers, cocaine and other drugs in the local area, federal officials said.

The two men, along with Fetcko and Schultz, are named in a case also involving Katherine Hungerman, Dustin Namack, Derick Namack, Jill West, Steven L. Namack, Christopher Howard, Buddy Robert Salem Jr., Michael Coppa, Cara Olako, Lucas N. High and Adam W. Barnes.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said the case involved the redistribution of oxycodone and other prescription drugs that came to the Ohio Valley from northern Ohio and Detroit, Mich.

“Over the course of the investigation, thousands of pills were recovered by agents through controlled purchases and court-authorized searches,” he said.

The cases were investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force, which includes officers and agents from the Wheeling Police Department, Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.