Man pleads to federal firearm, drug charges, could receive life in prison
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An Ohio man who bit a police officer during a traffic stop during which guns, drug ledgers and more than $20,000 in cash were found, could spend the rest of his life in federal prison when he is sentenced later this year.
Robin Earl Slater, 51, of Langsville, Ohio, pleaded guilty to four federal charges Tuesday before Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers. The charges were conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a marijuana conspiracy, possession of a firearm by a felon and obstruction of justice.
He admitted Tuesday that he plotted to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana to lower-level dealers in Kanawha and Putnam counties and out of state, according to a statement issued by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office.
State Police Sgt. B.K. Hammontree followed Slater into a St. Albans parking lot on Jan. 23, 2012, after seeing him commit several traffic offenses.
Slater was less than cooperative during the stop and at one point tried to leave, causing Hammontree to reach into the vehicle to put it into park, according to newspaper archives. The officer struggled with Slater to get the keys out of the ignition, but it was then that Slater bit him on the arm.
The previous report of the incident said that Hammontree used a stun gun on Slater but that Slater took the weapon from him and used it on the trooper. The release from the U.S. Attorney's office, however, said Slater pepper-sprayed the trooper.
Slater was arrested a short time later.
A search of his vehicle turned up $24,515 in cash, a 12-gauge shotgun, .38-caliber revolver, .44-caliber revolver, .223-caliber short-barreled rifle, .380-caliber pistol, a 9-millimeter pistol and drug ledgers.
Slater told police that the money found was from the dealers he supplied with pot and that the guns were for protection. He has two prior felony drug convictions, the release said.
"We owe it to our law enforcement officers to do everything we can to protect them on the job," Goodwin said in the statement. "We've seen too many tragic, senseless law enforcement deaths in situations just like this: routine encounters that suddenly turn violent.
"Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to keep the rest of us safe. I will spare no effort in prosecuting anyone who attacks them."
Sgt. Michael Baylous, State Police spokesman, said Hammontree has since returned to duty though he did undergo a blood test after the encounter to ensure no illnesses were transmitted when he was bitten. Baylous said blood tests are typical after injury or incidents where blood and saliva are involved.
Slater faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in federal prison but could be sentenced up to life in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 18.
State Police along with Putnam sheriff's deputies and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Loew handled the prosecution.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.