A 29-year-old Carthage man facing federal drug charges faked Facebook messages and mislead a government witness with the intent to “influence, delay or prevent” testimony, according to an indictment filed Nov. 14 in federal court.

Winfred Earl Ware Jr. now faces charges of obstruction of the due administration of justice and tampering with a witness by misleading conduct in addition to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance (meth).

Ware was arrested Tuesday and appeared in federal court in Beaumont, where Judge Keith F. Giblin put Ware into U.S. Marshal custody until a Dec. 7 detention hearing.

Ware had previously been indicted along with 10 other area residents in December 2017, as federal officials alleged he was part of a methamphetamine ring operating in Panola County. Officials said the group distributed 50 grams or more of meth. Eight people indicted in the case have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison already, while two others have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Ware was the only defendant in the case who did not plead guilty.

Prosecutors asked for the court Aug. 1 to dismiss the conspiracy to possess charge against Ware without prejudice as they considered new evidence in the case — Facebook messages submitted as defense exhibits for a trial scheduled Aug. 13. The messages, purportedly between Ware and a government witness, appeared to have been screenshot on July 12 and July 18.

“Based upon the contents of Defendant’s Exhibit No. 2, the government believes that it cannot proceed to trial against Ware until the exhibit is fully investigated,” prosecutors wrote, adding they needed time to look into the matter.

Because the charge was dismissed without prejudice, that meant prosecutors could re-file the charge at any time — which they did last month. The messages included in defense exhibits that were supposedly written by a government witness were fraudulent, according to the indictment. Officials say Ware intentionally faked the messages to “influence, delay or prevent” the testimony of a witness in the case.

If convicted, Ware faces at least 10 years in prison, a fine up to $10 million and at least five years probation for the drug charge and up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 and up to three years probation for the obstruction charge. Because the alleged tampering offense occurred in connection with a criminal case trial, a conviction on that charge means Ware would face between 10 years and life, a fine up to $10 million and at least five years probation.

Prosecutors are also seeking $25,000 gained through drug sales in the case.

Reporter

Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.