A federal grand jury sitting in Elkins indicted six individuals - four of whom are from Elkins - on drug-related charges this week.
The six individuals were named in four indictments Tuesday, according to a press release from the office of William J. Ihlenfeld II, U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Velair Von Collins II, 42, of Elkins, is named in a three-count indictment that charges him with one count of maintaining a drug-involved premise in September in Elkins; one count of possession of material used in the manufacture of methamphetamine; and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime on Sept. 4.
Collins turned himself in after officers with the Elkins Police Department allegedly found a large marijuana plant growing out of a 5-gallon bucket near his driveway, along with precursors to make methamphetamine in his trailer and an adjacent outbuilding, and assorted weapons inside his residence.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation through which the United States is seeking to forfeit firearms and ammunition seized from Collins' residence, meaning neither the firearms or ammunition would be returned to Collins.
According to the original complaint filed with the Randolph County Magistrate Clerk's Office, officers found a Marlin .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle and a loaded 12-gauge shotgun that had been illegally shortened inside Collins' trailer.
If convicted, Collins faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the maintaining a drug-involved premise charge; up to 10 years in prison on the possession of materials used to manufacture methamphetamine charge; and between five years and life in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the firearms in furtherance of a drug crime charge.
Collins is also facing three felony charges brought by the state - operating a clandestine meth lab, possession with intent to deliver and manufacturing marijuana. Those charges are pending and will be "dealt with soon," said Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker.
Archie Ray Arbogast, 36, of Dunmore, is named in a two-count indictment that charges him with one count of possession of material used in the manufacture of methamphetamine and one count of possession of pseudoephedrine to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine on Sept. 25.
Arbogast allegedly escaped police custody during a routine traffic stop Sept. 10 on Harrison Avenue in Elkins, but was arrested Sept. 25 in Dailey after police found various materials typically used to make meth - including lithium batteries, rubber tubing and 14 capsules of Claritin D24 Hours - in two backpacks that belonged to Arbogast.
The state charged Arbogast with one felony count of possession of precursor to manufacture methamphetamine and four felony counts of operating or attempting to operate a clandestine laboratory, all of which are still pending, Parker said.
If convicted, Arbogast faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. The case was investigated by the Elkins Police Department.
Daniel Ray Phares, 43, of Elkins, is named in a four-count indictment that charges him with one count of manufacturing marijuana; one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm; one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin.
Phares was arrested after officers with the Elkins Police Department discovered marijuana plants and other undisclosed drugs at Phares' residence March 28. Phares led police on a high-speed car chase that eventually ended on U.S. Route 219 near Highland Park.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation through which the United States is seeking to take possession of $950.01, a firearm and ammunition proceeds obtained as a result of drug activity.
If convicted, Phares faces up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the marijuana charge; 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the firearms charge; and 20 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine on each of the drug possession charges.
Steven B. "Pacco" Miller, 39, of Dryfork; Shalae Brooke Studer, 21, of Elkins; and Brian Keith Hammer, 51, of Elkins were named in an eight-count indictment. Count one charges all three individuals with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine from Feb. 27 through June 4. Counts two, three and four charge Miller with possession of pseudoephedrine to be just in the manufacture of methamphetamine on May 3, May 20 and May 28. Count five charges Studer with possession of pseudoephedrine to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine on June 3.
Count six charges Hammer with possession of pseudoephedrine to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine on June 3. Count seven charges Studer and Hammer with possession of material used in the manufacture of methamphetamine on June 3, and count eight charges Miller with possession of material used in the manufacture of methamphetamine on June 4.
If convicted, Miller, Studer and Hammer face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine as to count one; 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine as to each of counts two through six; and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine as to each of counts seven and eight. Randolph County Circuit Court charges against Miller, Studer and Hammer are pending, according to Parker.
The Randolph County Sheriff's Department investigated the case.
Parker said the fact that all the indictments were drug-related didn't "necessarily" mean drug use is on the rise.
"Certainly, there are issues there," he said Wednesday. "As a practical matter, it kind of bodes well for our law enforcement that they're investigating these cases and actually making arrests on these cases and bringing them to trial."
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.