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Ex-Pennington cop sentenced for drug dealing

Wes Bunch • Jun 4, 2013 at 5:39 PM

ABINGDON -- An ex-Pennington Gap police officer who pleaded guilty to dealing prescription drugs will spend less than a year in prison following a recent appearance in federal court in Abingdon.

John Charles Kelly, 39, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge James P. Jones to six-months in federal prison and ordered to undergo three years of supervised probation. Kelly was also fined $450.

In March, Kelly pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to a single count of distributing hydrocodone, a Schedule III drug.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Timothy Heaphy said Kelly’s charges stemmed from a July 2012 incident that occurred while he was on duty with the Pennington Gap Police Department.

According to Heaphy, Kelly was socializing with two females at his home in Pennington Gap home when he gave them approximately 20 hydrocodone pills.

The investigation into Kelly's actions was carried out by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the Virginia State Police, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Lee prosecuted the case.

Kelly is the second former police officer from Pennington Gap to be sentenced in federal court during the past month.

In May, former town police chief William Bryan Young was given a nine-year prison sentence in an unrelated case by Jones at a hearing in federal court in Big Stone Gap.

Young was also ordered to pay more than $11,000 in restitution.

Young pleaded guilty in January to charges of distributing narcotics while on duty and orchestrating the robbery of the town's Rite Aid Pharmacy.

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