Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 5, 2013

2 sentenced to prison

Men receive jail terms as part of Bluefield Pill Initiative

By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Two more men have been sentenced to prison as part of the Bluefield Pill Initiative.

Tyler Thorpe, 71, of Bluefield was sentenced to four years and three months in prison, according to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

Goodwin said Thorpe previously pleaded guilty in April to distribution of hydromorphone, a prescription painkiller commonly known as Dilaudid. Goodwin said on Sept. 12, 2012, Thorpe sold hydromorphone to a person cooperating with law enforcement authorities.

In a second sentencing in U.S. District Court, Goodwin said Robert J. Fleek Jr., 31, of Baltimore, Md., was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. Fleek previously pleaded guilty in April to distribution of Dilaudid and buprenorphine. Buprenorphine, commonly known by the trade name Suboxone or Subutex, is a drug intended to help people overcome opioid addiction as part of a rehabilitation program.

Goodwin said Fleek sold hydromorphone pills to persons cooperating with law enforcement on five different occasions between January 25, 2012, and March 16, 2012. Goodwin said Fleek also sold buprenorphine to a person cooperating with law enforcement.

Both men were sentenced by Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber in U.S. District Court in Bluefield.  

“Fighting the pill epidemic will continue to be my office’s leading priority,” Goodwin said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Pill dealers will be caught and they will be prosecuted.”

The Bluefield Pill Initiative is a collaborative, multi-agency regional law enforcement effort designed to halt prescription drug trafficking in Mercer, McDowell, and Wyoming counties.  The Bluefield Pill Initiative is led by the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, which includes the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming County Sheriff’s Departments, and the Bluefield and Princeton police departments.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com