Pennington Gap Police Chief William Bryan Young, 41, was arrested at the Lee County Courthouse by ATF agents, Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons said.
Young is currently being held without bond in federal custody. He was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Abingdon on Friday.
An affidavit filed in federal court also linked Young and three other individuals to a burglary at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Pennington Gap. According to the affidavit, over 5,400 oxycodone-based pills were taken during the Sept. 28 burglary.
Information contained in the affidavit shows that Young had been under internal investigation by the Virginia State Police for suspected use of illicit drugs as early as March.
Court documents contain allegations that Young used and sold prescription narcotics on several occasions and that he was associated with individuals known for selling drugs. The affidavit also alleges that he took counterfeit money from the Pennington Gap Police Department’s evidence room and used it to make purchases at several businesses in Lee County.
Search warrants were executed Thursday night at the police department and at Young’s residence located at 1187 Middle Wallens Creek Road, Stickleyville. Prescription drugs were reportedly found in Young’s police cruiser during the search, court records show.
Authorities also searched the residence of Steven Fritz, 166 Trenton Mullins Road, Stickleyville.
Parsons said the arrest resulted from a multi-year investigation conducted by his office and the FBI, Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“This has been spearheaded by the ATF and U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we’ve been working with them for two years,” Parsons said. “It involves a conspiracy ... and it is an ongoing investigation.”
Parsons added: “It’s sad for the profession, but there’s no excuse for a corrupt police officer. He’s got the trust of the public, and with something like this, there’s no greater violation of that trust.”
Pennington Gap Mayor D.R. Carter also confirmed Young’s arrest and said federal authorities had interviewed other members of the town’s police force as part of the investigation.
Carter declined to comment on further specifics related to the case and directed inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Young had been charged in a federal criminal complaint with a variety of drug and gun charges.
According to federal court documents, Young was charged with possession of a firearm by a user of controlled substances, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and possession of a Schedule II drug (Percocet) with intent to distribute.
Carter said the Town Council will hold an emergency meeting Monday to discuss Young’s arrest.
“There will be a special called meeting to deal with the issue at hand,” Carter said.
Despite Young’s absence, Carter said the town’s six-man police department will continue to operate as usual.
“The police department is still going to be staffed and operating out of the police station,” Carter said. “Lt. Louis Mavredes will be placed as the officer in charge.”
Young spent several years as a member of the Pennington Gap Police Department before being promoted from sergeant to police chief in July 2011, Carter said.