Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Virginia State News

July 16, 2013

Ex-police chief in Virginia pleads guilty to drug charge

ABINGDON, Va. — A former police chief in southwestern Virginia pleaded guilty Monday to dealing methamphetamines, cocaine and other drugs.

Former Chief Michael Dean Roberts, also known as “Fireball,” 54, of Saltville, pleaded guilty in federal court in Abingdon Monday to a one-count information charging him with distributing drugs, also including prescription painkillers, U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy.

An information signals that Roberts is cooperating with authorities in their investigation.

Authorities said Roberts sold at least 7,331 hydrocodone pills, 365 grams of methamphetamine, and small amounts of cocaine and oxycodone from 2006 through June. A confidential informant bought hydrocodone pills from the police chief on three separate occasions in May and June.

Some of the drugs came from the department’s evidence room, Heaphy said.

An affidavit filed after Roberts’ June arrest said a confidential cooperating defendant called Roberts on June 7 and was told the chief might have four pills available the following day. Roberts called back on June 8 and said he was en route to the other person’s Russell County home to deliver two pills, the affidavit said.

Audio and video surveillance captured Roberts placing two pills on the kitchen counter for the other person, then crushing and snorting another pill. Roberts later provided another one-half pill to the other person, who had received similar hydrocodone pills from the chief on two prior occasions — all monitored by law enforcement, according to the affidavit.

Roberts’ attorney, John Edward Jessee, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Roberts began working at the police department as a patrolman in July 1986, according to the Smyth County News & Messenger. He was promoted to chief in 2000.

Roberts was fired after his arrest. Lt. Rex Anders was put in control of the department.

Roberts faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he’s sentenced Oct. 9.


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