News Release
December 11, 2009
Contact: Special Agent Ramona Sanchez
Number: 602-664-5725

Large Scale Cocaine Trafficker Sentenced to Life in Prison for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
30-year Fugitive Had All 10 Fingers Surgically Altered to Evade Capture

30-Year Fugitive Had Ten Fingers Surgically Altered to Evade Capture

30-Year Fugitive Had Ten Fingers Surgically Altered to Evade Capture

DEC 11 -- PHOENIX - William Wallace Keegan, aka Richard Alan King, 62, of Palm Harbor, Florida (and previously of Calif. and New York), was sentenced yesterday to five concurrent life sentences for drug trafficking and 240 months for money laundering related to his drug trafficking activities.  Keegan was found guilty in June 2009, after a 10-day federal jury trial, of one count of Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute Five Kilograms or More of Cocaine, four counts of Possession With Intent To Distribute Five Kilograms or More of Cocaine and one Count of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering.

During the trial, the evidence showed that Keegan had all 10 fingers surgically altered in the 1990's to obliterate his fingerprints above the first joint. A Drug Enforcement Administration forensic fingerprint analyst was able to match the lower joint fingerprints from the arrest under the name of Richard King in January 2008 with a 1977 arrest, confirming his identity as William Wallace Keegan.

“This sentencing marks an end to a nationwide drug trafficking enterprise that spanned over three decades,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth W. Kempshall. “William Wallace Keegan was the leader of an extensive pipeline of illicit drugs who did everything he could to hide his identity and evade capture.  Now, he will be behind bars and known only by his inmate number.”

U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke stated, “With this sentence and the conclusion of the investigation, a drug pipeline from Mexico into Arizona and across  the United States has been shut down.  After spending years avoiding law enforcement, a career criminal has been brought to justice through the teamwork of dedicated law enforcement officials.”

The evidence presented at trial showed that between November 2005 and January 2008, Keegan and co-conspirators acquired cocaine in Arizona and transported it, primarily via the U.S. Postal Service, to New York.  Keegan had previously been trafficking marijuana from Arizona and California to New York and elsewhere and shifted to cocaine in 2005.  During the early part of the conspiracy, Keegan, who used the false identity of Richard King, traveled to Arizona and personally took possession of the cocaine from Arizona sources of supply.  Testimony showed that the drugs were brought into the U.S. from Mexico.  As the conspiracy progressed, Keegan had co-conspirators mail the cocaine to him at various hotels in Long Island, New York. 

“The tough sentence William Keegan received was reflective of his extensive drug trafficking activities and the lengths he went to in order to evade law enforcement,”  said Pete Zegarac, Inspector in Charge of the Phoenix Division Postal Inspection Service. “Our nation is a safer place with Keegan off the streets indefinitely.”

Keegan was caught by law enforcement through an undercover DEA operation in Hauppauge, New York, where he accepted suitcases containing 38 kilograms of sham cocaine.  The conspiracy was responsible for well over 150 kilograms of cocaine with a value of more than $2 million.  The money was used in part to promote the illegal drug business, resulting in the money laundering conviction.

In sentencing Keegan to life in prison, U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton relied on the seriousness of the offenses, identifying drug trafficking offenses in the quantities engaged in by the defendant as some of the most serious federal crimes.  She also noted that Keegan had engaged in drug trafficking for more than 30 years and that this conspiracy had stretched across the U.S. and involved large amounts of drugs and drug traffickers.  She noted that the sentence was needed to keep any community safe into which Keegan would otherwise be released and also to deter others from committing similar offenses. 

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Phoenix and New York, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Chandler Arizona Police Department. The prosecution was handled by James B. Morse Jr. and Brian G. Larson, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

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