Special to the Daily News
ABINGDON, Va. — The former police chief of the Pennington Gap, Va., Police Department pleaded guilty to felony charges related to his involvement in the distribution of prescription pain killers and the burglary of a pharmacy.
William Bryan Young, 39, of Duffield, Va., pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute oxycodone and one count of burglary of a pharmacy, related to the burglary of the Rite-Aid pharmacy in Pennington Gap, Va. on Sept. 28.
Young’s co-defendants, Kevin Andrew Young, 35, of Duffield, Va., and Chris Miles, 35, of Duffield, Va., also entered guilty pleas to one count of burglary of a pharmacy.
“William Bryan Young abused his police authority and repeatedly broke the law he was sworn to uphold,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said Tuesday. “By arranging a commercial burglary and engaging in numerous illegal drug transactions, Mr. Young tarnished the badge he wore and violated the trust of the people of Pennington Gap. This case demonstrates our commitment to enforce the law and hold individuals accountable, regardless of rank, position or status.”
“When a police officer violates the trust that our citizens have placed in its law enforcement, that is something we will not tolerate. I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this wanton misconduct that there will be a penalty paid,” said Richard Marianos, special agent in charge of ATF Washington Field Division.
According to evidence presented at the guilty plea hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Lee, in the Spring of 2012, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) began investigating Young’s associations with known drug distributors in Lee County, Va. Their investigation, aided by other state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, determined that Young was a long-time user of controlled substances, had distributed controlled substances while employed as the police chief, and that he had orchestrated the burglary of the Rite-Aid pharmacy in Pennington Gap, Va., to obtain prescription pain killers.
Specifically, the investigation determined that on Sept. 28, Young sent all other Pennington Gap Police Department personnel home to ensure that he would be the only police officer working the night shift. At approximately 2:50 a.m., a burglary of the Rite-Aid pharmacy in Pennington Gap occurred. Just prior to the burglary, Young, who was on duty at the time, contacted officers with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to determine their positions relative to the location of the pharmacy.
After determining that there were no law enforcement officers in close proximity to the pharmacy, William Bryan Young contacted Kevin Young, Jimmy Johnson and Miles to tell them it was clear for them to break-in to the Rite Aid pharmacy. Kevin Young drove himself, Johnson and Miles to the Rite-Aid. Miles broke into the Rite-Aid pharmacy through the drive-thru window and stole approximately 5,000 oxycodone pills. William Bryan Young later received stolen pills from the pharmacy robbery.
On Oct. 18, William Bryan Young, in his police department issued uniform, sold 20 oxycodone pills to a confidential informant cooperating with the ATF in their investigation. Shortly thereafter, William Bryan Young was arrested by agents with the ATF at the Lee County Courthouse in Jonesville.
William Bryan Young admitted to being an illegal user of controlled substances for a number of years and admitted to distributing20 Percocet pills earlier that day. William Bryan Young also admitted to distributing 20 Percocet pills the previous day, and to distributing six Percocet pills the previous weekend.
A search of William Bryan Young’s police cruiser located the pre-recorded United States currency used by the confidential informant to purchase 20 Percocet pills earlier that day. Agents also located 13 Percocet pills and one oxicodone pill in the police cruiser.
On Oct. 18, a search warrant was executed at William Bryan Young’s residence in Duffield by federal agents, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police.
Law enforcement officers found 548 Percocet pills and firearms in the residence. In addition, agents located empty evidence bags from the Pennington Gap Police Department in William Bryan Young’s personal vehicle that appeared to have previously contained controlled substances.
William Bryan Young faces a potential maximum sentence of up to 40 years imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $1,250,000.
Kevin Young faces a potential maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $250,000.
Chris Miles faces a potential maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $250,000.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Marshals Service.
Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Lee is prosecuting the case for the United States.