Shade Workman

Shade Workman

ABINGDON, Va. — A former Virginia State Police special agent has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for bribery, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.

Shade Carlton Workman, a previous member of the Tazewell County High Intensity Drug Task Force, was arrested and indicted in 2018 on charges he solicited sex from confidential drug informants.

Workman was found guilty of the charges after a federal trial in March.

Prior to his sentencing Friday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, letters were sent to the court and Judge James Jones by Tazewell County Commonwealth Attorney Mike Dennis and retired Tazewell County Detective Kevin Bales praising Workman’s character.

Dennis described Workman as a “dedicated, conscientious officer” who was “well respected throughout the Commonwealth for his knowledge and ability in working as a narcotics investigator …”

Bales, a current candidate for sheriff, described Workman as “extremely kind, dependable and well regarded among his peers.”

Bales also told Judge Jones that “transgressions” committed by Workman should not be the only factors considered in the case.

“I hope you will also consider Shade Workman’s efforts, while working with the Virginia State Police and assigned to the Tazewell County Narcotics Task Force, in regards to helping the community remove drugs and those that deal them from our streets as well as his strong commitment to his family,” Bales wrote to Judge Jones.

During closing arguments to the jury during the March trial, Criminal Chief Zach Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, said the case involved three female confidential informants. All three had charges pending and one had a boyfriend in jail.

“They were all approached by the defendant and told, ‘You help me, I’ll help you,’ “ Lee said. “ ‘You have sex with me, I’ll get you home to your children. You have sex with me, I’ll get your boyfriend out of jail.’ In another instance when an informant wavered about having a relationship with Workman, she had testified that he told her that she could go back to jail and “be away from your children.”

Commonwealth Attorney Dennis testified during the four-day trial that Workman would make recommendations regarding the confidential informants and how they cooperated with the Tazewell County High Intensity Drug Task Force.

“It’s a lot of power the defendant held in his hands,” Lee said.

The incidents occurred between May 2016 and July 2017, and from December 2017 to March 2018, according to court documents.

During an interview with local media in March, U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said there was no evidence that any other member of the Tazewell County High Intensity Drug Task Force had engaged in conduct such as Workman’s.

Contact Samantha Perry at

Recommended for you