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Kingston man faces federal drug, gun charges

December 10. 2013 11:39PM

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WILKES-BARRE — A Kingston man previously described as a gang member has been indicted by a federal grand jury on drug and gun charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday.

A grand jury alleges James Featherstone, 33, distributed cocaine and heroin in Luzerne County between March and September 2013, and illegally possessed a gun as a convicted felon and in connection with his drug-trafficking activities, U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith said.

Featherstone made headlines in April when he and another man were arrested after a multiagency raid on a Kingston apartment in which police said they found crack cocaine, a gun, a machete and body armor inside the Rutter Avenue residence.

State police described Featherstone and his fellow defendant in that case, Jeremy Norber Valcarcel, as members of a street gang.

Tuesday’s indictment charges Featherstone with seven counts of drug trafficking, one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and one count of illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

According to court documents, the grand jury returned nine counts against Featherstone for incidents that allegedly took place on March 25, April 9, April 11, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Aug. 27 and Sept. 9. In addition to dealing drugs, he is accused of illegally possessing a .45-caliber pistol.

Featherstone is not permitted to own or carry a gun due to a previous drug conviction, state police said in April. A review of his criminal history revealed at least five drug-related arrests dating back to 2001.

Federal court documents do not describe the alleged offenses.

In addition to the April raid, court documents and previous news reports show Featherstone and another man were arrested in September after police said they were observed in a narcotics transaction in the parking lot on George Avenue.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa.

According to federal officials, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the drug charges; a mandatory five-year prison sentence and possible life sentence if convicted of possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking; and a mandatory 15 years in prison and a possible life sentence if convicted of the felon in possession of a firearm charge as an “armed career criminal.”

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