Man pleads guilty to heroin conspiracy

A Winchester man pleaded guilty to conspiring to bring more than 1,000 grams of heroin into the Winchester area in federal court Tuesday.

Joshua Dillon Burkhart, 27, was accused of regularly trafficking heroin between Baltimore and Winchester. In exchange for his plea of guilt, prosecutors reduced his charge to conspiring to bring more than 100 grams of heroin into the region.

Burkhart has not yet been sentenced under the conviction. The maximum penalty for the lesser charge is a fine of $5 million, 40 years in jail and four years of supervised probation. The new offense carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.

According to court documents filed in the matter, had the case gone to trial, evidence would prove that between June 2013 and October 2014, Burkhart and others participated in a conspiracy to move loads of heroin between the two cities.

Within that time frame alone, Burkhart distributed at least 1,000 grams of heroin in the Winchester area. He purchased it from Christopher Giles and other distributors in Baltimore, making several trips per month, according to court documents.

He’d pay $100 per gram, sometimes purchasing as much as 110 grams at a time. He would sell the heroin at $240 per gram, sometimes to people who would resell the drugs.

On at least one occasion, Burkhart accepted a firearm as collateral on a debt owed to him by a regular customer, according to court filings.

In October 2014, authorities arrested Burkhart on charges of selling .82 grams to a customer. They later found 1.4 grams of heroin on him, along with $1,599 in currency and three cellphones, documents state.

Along with the federal charges, Burkhart has a lengthy criminal history. The Virginia State Police issued warrants of arrest for Burkhart on charges of eluding police, reckless driving, and driving on a revoked license stemming from an incident in Frederick County on Nov. 13.

Additionally, in March 2016, Burkhart pleaded guilty to a charge of the distribution of heroin from 2014 in Frederick County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to serve five years, with all but six months suspended.

In April, Burkhart pleaded guilty to several charges related to the possession of drugs, eluding police, and the possession of a firearm with illegal drugs in Winchester Circuit Court. Those charges stem from incidents alleged to have occurred in May 2014.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not return requests for comment on this story.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com