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W.Va. Senate leader’s son faces drug charges


WHEELING, W.Va. — The son of West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler was arrested Wednesday following a nine-count indictment charging him with trafficking oxycodone.

According to U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld, Jacob Kessler, 25, of Glen Dale was arrested following an investigation by the Ohio Valley Drug and Violent Crime Task Force that showed Kessler allegedly sold oxycodone through 2013.

In February 2013, he is alleged to have sold painkillers near West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling. Information in the indictment alleges he sold an unspecified amount of pills for $175 and $210 on three separate occasions “to a person known to the grand jury.”

Additionally, Jacob Kessler traveled at least once between Bellaire and Wheeling to sell pills, Ihlenfeld said.

In total, Jacob Kessler is charged with one county of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, four counts of use of a telephone facility to facilitate the distribution of oxycodone, three counts of distribution of oxycodone and one count of distribution of oxycodone within 1,000 feet of a protected location.

The charges collectively carry a potential sentence of 125 years in jail and $6.5 million in fines.

According to court documents, Jacob Kessler was arraigned Wednesday and released on a personal recognizance bond until his next hearing in federal court, set for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Bernard is prosecuting the case.

Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, confirmed his son’s arrest Wednesday. When reached by The Intelligencer, he called prescription pill addiction “an epidemic that hits the highest halls in Congress … and knows no economic bounds.”

In a prepared statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Kessler said just because he is the Senate president, he is “no different than any other West Virginian that is dealing with a family member’s addiction.

“I know there are thousands of parents out there that will read this and relate to my heartbreak,” he said. “What I need to be today is Jacob’s father and make sure he gets the help he needs.”

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