East St.Louis Man Hit With Nearly 20 Years In Prison For Running Drugs, Keeping Guns While On Federal Supervised Release | USAO-SDIL


East St. Louis, Ill. – Reoffending in the federal system has cost one East St. Louis resident 
almost two decades of his life behind bars. In 2017, James T. Keel, 31, was out on federal 
supervised release when he was caught selling cocaine from a house in East St. Louis. On Wednesday, 
United States District Judge Staci M. Yandle sentenced Keel to 210 months in prison, to run 
consecutively to the 27.5-month sentence Keel had already received back in February for violating 
the terms of his supervised release.

Keel was originally prosecuted in 2012 for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and 
possession with intent to distribute 30 grams of crack cocaine. He was convicted and sentenced to 
70 months in June 2012 and began serving a term of supervised release in May 2016. In September and 
October 2017, undercover agents working with the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southern 
Illinois (MEGSI) and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office purchased crack cocaine from Keel on 
four occasions. Agents then served a search warrant on the residence and recovered 95 grams of 
powder cocaine, 64 grams of crack cocaine, 7 firearms, and over $17,000 in cash. It was later 
determined that Keel had been selling drugs out of the house for over 9 months before he was 
caught.

In handing down the 17.5-year sentence, Judge Yandle emphasized the need to protect the public from 
Keel and deter others who are part of the ongoing drug epidemic plaguing our society. Keel 
testified at his sentencing hearing that he hadn’t sold as much cocaine as the agents claimed, but 
Judge Yandle found his testimony “disingenuous” as it contradicted what he told investigators 
during a videotaped interview. Judge Yandle further pointed to the number of guns Keel illegally 
kept in the house where he was selling cocaine, as well as the length of time he had been selling 
drugs. It was clear, she said, that Keel had not learned anything from his previous stint in 
prison.

Keel pleaded guilty to the charges in August 2018. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to serve 
an additional 10 years of supervised release when his prison term ends.

This case was investigated by the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office, MEGSI, and the Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Hoell
prosecuted the case.
 



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