Gun, drug trafficker pleads guilty in federal court

A major gun and drug trafficker in Dayton found with 35 firearms in a raid last year, including a gun allegedly used to kill a Dayton businessman, pleaded guilty Friday to three felony counts in district court.

Dwight E. Stargell Sr., 50, once a member of the United States Army, will be sentenced July 17 in Southern Ohio District Court Judge Thomas M. Rose’s courtroom. Assistant United States Attorney Brent Tabacchi said that as part of the plea agreement, 11 of the 14 counts on the federal indictment will be dropped.

Rose said that if he imposed the maximum sentences for each count consecutively, Stargell could face up to 35 years in prison and fines of more than $1.5 million. Stargell’s attorney, Thomas Manning, calculated his client’s advisory range — a formula including many factors to aid in sentencing — at between 135 and 168 months. Rose has discretion to sentence in, above or below that range.

Stargell pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing a firearm in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce (10 years maximum), possession of cocaine with intent to distribute (20 years max) and dealing firearms without a license (5 years max).

An investigation by the Montgomery County Regional Agencies Narcotics and Gun Task Force (RANGE) and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found the weapons at Stargell’s residence at 223 Ardmore Ave. in Dayton.

One of the weapons found at his home authorities allege was used by his nephew, Anthony Stargell, in the killing of Dayton business owner Tommy Nickles last April. Tabacchi said Dwight Stargell’s federal case is separate from Anthony Stargell’s case.

Anthony Stargell, 21, faces murder charges in a death penalty case in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. Police say Anthony Stargell shot Nickles and Nickles’ golden retriever to death in an apparent robbery on April 3 and then set the garage on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.

The firearms found at Dwight Stargell’s residence were mostly handguns, but also included a sawed-off shotgun, two assault rifles with high-capacity magazines and other rifles and shotguns. “That will rip through your car, your vest, everything,” RANGE field commander Sgt. Mike Brem said last year about one of the rifles.

A confidential informant advised an ATF Special Agent in late 2011 that Dwight Stargell was involved in drug trafficking and also sold guns, once offering to sell a pistol to the informant. The special agents affidavit said the informant purchased that weapon and others plus drugs during the next few months. The nine-month investigation wrapped up in an April 19, 2012 raid at Stargell’s home.

The affidavit said Stargell admitted to owning all the drugs and weapons and that he had them to protect himself “because he has lived a violent lifestyle.”

By Mark Gokavi - Staff Writer - Dayton Daily News

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