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Former Pennington Gap police chief pleads guilty in federal court

Wes Bunch • Jan 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

The former chief of the Pennington Gap Police Department pleaded guilty in federal court Monday morning to felony charges that he sold prescription narcotics while on duty and helped orchestrate the robbery of a local pharmacy.

William Bryan Young, 39, of Duffield, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to possess oxycodone with the intent to distribut. He also pleaded guilty to one count of burglary of a pharmacy for his role in the Sept. 28, 2012 break-in at the Pennington Gap Rite-Aid Pharmacy.

Two co-defendants in the case -- Kevin Andrew Young, 35, of Duffield and Chris Miles, 35, of Duffield, also pleaded guilty to their roles in the pharmacy burglary.

“William Bryan Young abused his police authority and repeatedly broke the law he was sworn to uphold,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said. “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.”

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Washington Field Division Special Agent Richard Marianos said Young's case sends a message that federal authorities will not tolerate illegal behavior by members of law enforcement.

“When a police officer violates the trust that our citizens have placed in its law enforcement, that is something we will not tolerate," Marianos said. "I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this wanton misconduct that there will be a penalty paid.”

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, authorities with the ATF began investigating Bryan Young's associations with known drug dealers in Lee County during the Spring of 2012.

Aided by state, local and other federal law enforcement agencies, investigators discovered that Bryan Young had a history of prescription drug abuse, and had used controlled substances illegally while employed as Pennington Gap's police chief.

Investigators also determined that Bryan Young had planned and helped carry out the burglary of the Pennington Gap Rite-Aid with the help of his brother, Kevin Young, and two other individuals.

Prosecutors presented evidence at Monday's hearings that revealed Bryan Young's role in the burglary.

According to prosecutors, Young sent all other members of the Pennington Gap Police Department home the night of the burglary so he was the only officer working night shift.

Just prior to the 2:50 a.m. burglary, Bryan Young contacted officers with the Lee County Sheriff's Office to determine their location in the county relative to the pharmacy.

Once it was determined no law enforcement officers were within range of the pharmacy, Bryan Young contacted Kevin Young, Miles and another man identified as Jimmy Johnson to give them the go ahead to carry out the pharmacy burglary.

Miles was the person who reportedly entered the pharmacy through a drive through window. The men reportedly made off with more than 5,000 prescription painkillers as a result of the break-in.

Bryan Young was given a sizeable quantity of the stolen painkillers following the burglary.

Federal agents arrested Young on Oct. 18 in his uniform at the Lee County Courthouse in Jonesville 18 after he sold 20 oxycodone pills to a police informant earlier in the day.

After being taken into custody, Young admitted to abusing prescription painkillers like Percocet and admitted to selling 20 of the pills to an informant on the day of his arrest. Money used to purchase the pills was found during a search of Young's cruiser, along with additional oxycodone pills.

A search warrant conducted at Bryan Young's house shortly after his arrest turned up empty evidence bags as well as 548 Percocet pills and a number of firearms. Evidence of controlled substances were also found in Bryan Young's personel vehicle.

At his sentencing hearing, Bryan Young could be ordered to serve up to 40 years in prison and pay a $1.25 million fine. Kevin Young faces a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison and fines of $250,000, while Miles could also be ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and spend up to 20 years in prison.

The investigation into Bryan Young's activities was a joint-operation carried out by the Lee County Sheriff's Office, the Virginia State Police, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, the ATF, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Lee is prosecuting the case.

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