Pocahontas County Sheriff Wants To Make A Dent In County Drug Trade
Marlinton, WV – An early morning drug bust on May 10th resulted in the arrest of 18 Pocahontas County residents on charges of delivery of some pretty hard core prescription drugs such as Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. But what would make Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese even happier is to see those felony arrests turn into felony convictions. This time he believes there is a much better chance of achieving just that.
Well before this drug raid, Jonese called on the expertise of a former criminal defense lawyer to vet the departments evidence before issuing the first arrest warrant. That expert is Robert P. Martin, a private attorney from Charleston, WV and a Pocahontas County native. Over the past few years he’s represented both the Pocahontas County Commission and the Sheriffs dept in civil matters. He explains a bit of his role in Tuesday’s drug bust.
“I’ve been working with the Sheriff in and about these investigations to assist the Sheriffs dept in making sure their paperwork’s all in order and assisting as a legal advisor to the Sheriff and his deputies” says Martin. “The officers did a very good job; they’ve had a number of people working it. We reviewed all the paperwork as we went through, reviewed the evidence; at this point there was sufficient on all of these persons to proceed with charges.”
Martin says the arrests are also the results of over a years’ worth of work of a joint drug task force created by Sheriff Jonese; a partnership between his department and the US Forest Service.
Although Martin has worked for the county for a number of years in regards to civil cases, this is his first opportunity to work with the Sheriff on a project of this complexity. Martin says his background makes him uniquely suited in this capacity.
“I have a strong history and background in criminal work” he says. “I’ve been a Special Prosecutor in a number of the counties around West Virginia. I had a criminal practice for a number of years where I did criminal defense work. And that’s really good to come to do what I’ve been doing with the Sheriff’s dept, because when I look at these things I look at it as a defense lawyer; how can I find holes in what we’re trying to do.”
He acknowledges that prescription drug abuse is a growing problem across the county. Still, he says he was surprised to find it so prevalent in Pocahontas.
“When I first started getting involved in this, frankly I was shocked” says Martin. “You know I lived here a number of years ago, I’ve maintained a residence in Pocahontas County for the last 25 years. But I was frankly shocked at the level of prescription drug abuse in the county. It’s a target nationwide, it’s a target statewide, the legislature’s tried to address it, we deal with it in all the other counties. There’s no area of the state that’s escaped this.”
Sheriff Jonese is also looking beyond arrests and convictions. He’s working on meeting another goal – to bring some kind of drug recovery facility to the county. He says there is a very compelling reason to do this.
“Last word I got was there was approximately 255 recovery beds state-wide” he says. “We have a drug problem but we don’t have the means to help it. We can take legal actions as far as making arrests, but that will not help solve the addiction problem for even the individuals arrested or those who haven’t been.”