Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 21, 2010

Tazewell authorities unseal indictments of 17 on drug charges

TAZEWELL, Va. — Officials in Tazewell County released the names Thursday of 17 additional individuals who were indicted by a Tazewell County grand jury on Jan. 5.

“These indictments were sealed until the individuals could be picked up,” Dennis Lee, Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney said.

In addition to unsealing the indictments, Lee announced that four individuals who pleaded guilty last month at U.S. District Court in Abingdon for their roles in a multi-state drug ring will be sentenced at 11 a.m., on March 15, in Abingdon, according to Lee who serves as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Virginia.

The four included James Curtis “Geesh” Hylton, 65, of Richlands, Va., who pleaded guilty to distribution of oxycodone, as well as the use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Co-defendants in the case included Lawrence Allen “Big Al,” aka “Carbo” Rife, 52 of Richlands; John Arthur Weatherman, 33, of King, N.C.; and James Norman Miller, 55 of Harriman, Tenn.

U.S. District Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia heard all four pleas on Dec. 15, 2009. Hylton faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and as much as a $1 million fine, while Rife, Weatherman and Miller each face as much as 20 years in prison and also a $1 million fine.

Lee said in the press release that he introduced evidence during the guilty plea hearing revealing that Hylton and Rife sold about $600,000 worth of oxycodone in the Richlands area during a 5-year period. Lee stated that Hylton obtained the oxycodone from sources in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

According to Lee’s press release, agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrested Miller, and worked with him to set up a sting operation in Wytheville, Va., involving Weatherman. Lee said that the case moved quickly through the courts.

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