United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Ernest Roberts, a/k/a “Balla Walla,” (age 41) of Allendale, South Carolina, was convicted this morning by a jury in Columbia, S.C., after a two-day trial in federal court. Roberts was charged and convicted of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of crack cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841.
Audio and video evidence presented at trial established that on Feb. 22, 2016, Roberts traveled to Bert’s Fast Stop and Pawn Store in Fairfax, S.C., to meet with an informant working with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). After discussing the meet on several recorded phone calls, evidence established that Roberts sold the informant 26.35 grams of “crack” cocaine in exchange for $1,300 while standing near 10th Street in Fairfax.
SLED Agents testified that they observed the transaction and identified Ernest Roberts as the individual who met with the informant to conduct the controlled purchase. During a pretrial conference held on the case on Aug. 23, 2017, the parties discussed Roberts’ extensive prior record for drug distribution offenses. As a result of his prior convictions for possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and crack cocaine in 2014, possession with intent to distribute marijuana in 2013, and distribution of cocaine in 2006, Roberts faces a statutory sentencing range of up to 30 years in federal prison as a result of his conviction.
This case was investigated by Special Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and Officers with the Allendale Police Department. The case was prosecuted pursuant to 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone’s longstanding partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office to target career criminals in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Colleton, and Allendale Counties in federal court. Solicitor Stone noted, “this case is an excellent example of how State and Federal cooperation can target and eliminate the threat of career criminals in South Carolina.”
Special Assistant United States Attorney Carra Henderson of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and Assistant United States Attorney JD Rowell of the US Attorney’s Office in Columbia prosecuted the case. United States District Judge Mary G. Lewis of Columbia presided over the trial of the case and will impose sentence after a presentence investigation report has been prepared by the United States Probation Office.