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Michael Dean Roberts, 54, of Saltville, was charged Wednesday with distribution of a controlled substance.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Federal authorities have accused Marion’s police chief of illegally selling prescription pills, according to court records that quote a confidential informant who suspected that the chief got some of the drugs from his department’s evidence room.
Michael Dean “Fireball” Roberts was charged Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon with distribution of a controlled substance.
Roberts, 54, of Saltville was an elected member of the Smyth County Board of Supervisors for 14 years, from January 1996 through 2009. He has been Marion’s top cop since 2000.
The town of Marion announced Wednesday night that Roberts had been fired, effective immediately.
The case, which was developed with hidden microphones and video equipment, is described by agent Jonathan Tabor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in affidavits for Roberts’ arrest and for a search of the police department and Roberts’ home.
Tabor described a series of statements by two confidential informants who said Roberts supplied Percocet, Roxicet, Lortab, Xanax pills and “a Wal Mart bag two-thirds full of marijuana” in the fall of 2012. On a few occasions, Roberts supplied cocaine, court papers said.
Roberts did not discuss drugs openly but responded to code phrases such as “anything going on up your way?” which was an inquiry to see if he had any pills available, court papers said.
One informant described ingesting methamphetamine from a plastic bag and pills from an unlabeled bottle daily from 2006 until 2008 with Roberts, who supplied the drugs, court papers said. The chief was sometimes in uniform and often returned to work after ingesting the drugs, according to the court documents, which also said that after 2008, they took pills only.
This same informant told authorities that Roberts sometimes brought pills he could not identify, which led to the suspicion that “Roberts was obtaining the pills from police evidence,” the affidavits said.
According to the court documents, Roberts told the informant he was the law enforcement official in charge of destroying seized drugs, but only after receiving paperwork from the commonwealth’s attorney’s office granting him approval to do so.
“Once he received the paperwork, Roberts had a new supply of narcotics,” court papers said.
The informant said Roberts provided a book, the “Drug Identification Bible,” which the two used to identify unknown drugs, court papers said.
If the drugs were narcotics they took them, but if they were non-narcotics such as blood pressure tablets Roberts flushed them down the toilet, court papers said.
According to the affidavits, on June 8, Roberts went to the same informant’s home in Russell County and stepped into the kitchen. As authorities monitored the scene with audio and video, the chief put a hand in his pocket and then placed two pills on the counter for the informant and one on a plate pulled from a cabinet.
Roberts then crushed the pill on the plate with a spoon, divided the material into two lines with a card from his wallet and snorted the lines. He collected the residue with his hand, licked his hand, and washed the plate and spoon in the kitchen sink, the court papers said.
After the pair left, investigators found two Lortab-branded hydrocodone pills in the home’s medicine cabinet, which was where the cooperating defendant had been asked to put any drugs he got from Roberts, court papers said. The cooperating defendant later gave authorities an additional half a pill he said he received from Roberts after leaving the home and told of buying pills from Roberts several times previously, always paying $14 a pill, the affidavits said.
Roberts was released on bond.
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