HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Austin Bruce Jeffreys, 28, of Chesapeake, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to crimes arising from a drug-related June 2021 shootout in Huntington.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on June 14, 2021, Jeffreys spoke by phone with an inmate at the Western Regional Jail. The calls were recorded. The inmate asked Jeffreys to go to a Huntington residence and retrieve a quantity of suboxone that belonged to the inmate, but was in the possession of another person. Jeffreys admitted that he told the inmate he would be carrying a loaded Bersa Thunder .380-caliber Combat pistol while retrieving the drugs.
When Jeffreys and another individual arrived at the Huntington residence, a shootout occurred before Jeffreys could recover the drugs. After the shooting, Jeffreys made another recorded phone call with the inmate and admitted to his role in the shooting. Several days later, Jeffreys was arrested and once again admitted to his role in the shooting and that he knew the drugs he tried to recover were intended for distribution.
Jeffreys pleaded guilty to using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 13, 2023, and faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $500,000 fine.
The inmate, Jacob Benjamin Loper, 21, pleaded guilty to attempted possession with intent to distribute suboxone and conspiracy to use a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Loper was sentenced to two years and six months in prison on May 9, 2022.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the West Virginia State Police, the Huntington Police Department, and the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Investigations Unit.
United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Ryan A. Keefe is prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:21-cr-216.