Man sentenced in federal court for selling drugs in Youngstown and Warren

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DEA agents used a confidential source to make drug buys in the case

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man described as a “retail-level narcotics dealer” with a past history of drug convictions was sentenced this week to six years in federal prison.

U.S. Judge John R. Adams handed down the sentence Tuesday to Brian Benson, 30, of Warren, who pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, cocaine base and carfentanil.

Defense attorneys were asking for a sentence of 77 months, according to a sentencing memorandum filed in the case late last week in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio.

Benson was indicted by a federal grand jury in June after an investigation by the Youngstown office of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration stretching back to 2018.

An affidavit said the case began after a confidential source told investigators that Benson was selling drugs in the Youngstown and Warren areas. He has had several drug-related offenses and has also been arrested or convicted in the past of weapons offenses, assaulting a police officer and aggravated menacing, according to the affidavit.

DEA agents used the confidential source to make drug buys from Benson on Oct. 18, 2018, at Wick Street SE and Laird Avenue SE in Warren and Oct. 25, 2018, on Norwood Avenue on the North Side of Youngstown, the affidavit said.

In January and February of 2019, the informant also made drug buys for investigators on Belmont Street NW and Wick Street SE in Warren. On March 10, 2019, investigators served a search warrant at Benson’s Wick Street SE home and found cash, two bags of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and two cellphones.

Also that month, investigators served a search warrant at a North Yorkshire Avenue home in Austintown used by Benson, the affidavit said. There, investigators found a bag of marijuana, a stolen .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a .38-caliber revolver, the affidavit said.

East Liverpool police then found crack cocaine and carfentanil Oct. 17, 2019, after pulling over a car driven by Benson.

Benson’s attorneys in their sentencing memorandum asked for a sentence on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines, saying that a lack of education and drug abuse since the age of 12 by their client had a lot to do with his past actions.

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