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Former police chief accepts guilt for drug-related charges

The former police chief in Pennington Gap, Virginia, recently admitted to distributing prescription drugs in addition to orchestrating the robbery of a popular pharmacy chain with other individuals. With an overwhelming amount of evidence weighing against the man, he owned up to the drug-related offenses, which included conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone and burglary.

The police chief landed on the radar of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in the spring of 2012. The organization, with the aid of state and local law enforcement, were able to make ties between the officer and known drug dealers throughout Lee County, Virginia. Through their extensive investigations, they determined that the police chief was not only an avid user of controlled substances, but also dealt the drugs while on duty.

The investigation also turned up evidence that the officer organized a Sept. 28, 2012 burglary that was executed at a Rite Aid pharmacy in Pennington Gap. The goal of the robbery was to obtain prescription painkillers.

On the night of the robbery, the police chief sent his co-workers home so that he would be able to work the overnight shift by himself. He also used his power to determine where Lee County Sheriff's Office personnel were located to ensure no law enforcers were near the Rite Aid at the time. That's when he phoned his co-conspirators, who broke into the pharmacy, where they made away with around 5,000 oxycodone pills. The police chief ended up with the pills, but was caught when he sold 20 of them to an informant for the ATF.

Two 35-year-old men from Duffield were implicated in the break-in and pleaded guilty to burglary charges. They both face up to 20 years in prison.

The former police chief is facing up to 40 years in prison and could pay up to $1.25 million in fines.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigations, "Former Virginia Police Chief Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy and Burglary Charges," Jan. 7, 2013

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