News Release
January 30, 2009
Contact: Thomas E. Murphy
(314) 538-4660

West Virginia Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Drug Overdose Deaths

JAN 30 -- (EAST ST. LOUIS, IL) - A. Courtney Cox, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on January 30, 2009, Rex I. HATFIELD, age 52, of West Virginia, received a life sentence in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois.

HATFIELD, formerly of Oceana, West Virginia, and Lebanon, Virginia, was convicted on October 30, 2008, following a three and one-half week jury trial. A federal jury found HATFIELD guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Pharmacy Burglaries (Count 1), and Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances with Deaths Resulting (Count 2). HATFIELD received concurrent sentences of 10 years on Count 1, and life imprisonment on Count 2.

Approximately 100 witnesses testified for the Government at trial in October. According to the evidence presented, HATFIELD and his brother Everly Hatfield led a group which committed about 85 pharmacy burglaries in 10 states. Some of these burglaries occurred in small towns in southern Illinois, including Fairfield, Mattoon, Metropolis, Flora, McCleansboro, Eldorado, Herrin, and Harrisburg. The group also committed burglaries at pharmacies in Missouri, including those in Crestwood, St. Charles, Seneca, and St. Joseph.

The HATFIELD group stole pain pills such as Oxycontin, morphine patches (fentanyl), and other controlled substances valued at nearly $500,000 between 1998 and 2004. Rex and Everly Hatfield transported these stolen pharmaceuticals back to West Virginia and Virginia for sale to dealers who worked with them.

The jury returned special verdict forms which found that drugs distributed by the HATFIELD brothers caused the overdose deaths of Deborah Smith of Honaker, Virginia, in 2001; Mark Honaker of Lebanon, Virginia, in 2000; Carol Walker of Glen Fork, West Virginia, in 2002; and Jimmy Dishmon (the Hatfields’ brother-in-law) of Oceana, West Virginia, in 2003. The jury also returned a special verdict form which found the HATFIELD brothers had provided drugs which caused life-threatening injuries to Richard Ward of Glen White, West Virginia, in 2003. According to multiple trial witnesses, the HATFIELD brothers suspected that Smith, Walker, and Ward were police informants. Walker died just a week before she was scheduled to testify against Everly Hatfield in West Virginia, on a state charge of unlawful sale of Oxycontin. Witnesses testified at trial that the HATFIELD brothers had bragged after Smith and Walker died, claiming that “those who snitch on us tend to wake up dead.” At the time Richard Ward nearly died of a fentanyl overdose, he had been scheduled to testify against the HATFIELDS concerning a pharmacy burglary committed in Princeton, West Virginia. Witnesses testified that when Ward collapsed and stopped breathing, Everly Hatfield instructed bystanders, “Don’t revive him. Let him die.” Everly Hatfield’s own sentence hearing is scheduled for March 20, 2009, in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois.

The four-year investigation which resulted in the convictions of Rex and Everly Hatfield was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Drug Task Force with the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Oceana, West Virginia Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies in Illinois, Virginia, and elsewhere.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert L. Garrison and Nicole E. Gorovsky.