CLARKSBURG - A Buckhannon man who Upshur County sheriff's deputies arrested last fall on charges of selling marijuana pleaded guilty to drug-related charges Friday in federal court.
Ryan Keith Gillum, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana, a felony, before U.S. Magistrate John S. Kaull at the Clarksburg office of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Gillum was named in four counts of a 14-count indictment returned Dec. 17, 2013, by a federal grand jury sitting in Clarksburg. The indictment names four other individuals, including Lennox Buckley, also known as "J," "Jamaic," and "Jamaica Man;" Melvin Sanders, Beth Ann Brown and Donna Irons.
Gillum on Friday pleaded guilty to Count 1 of the indictment, which alleges that "between in or about July, 2010 (sic) and November, 2012, (sic) the exact dates unknown to the Grand Jury," he and the other defendants conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana in Marion, Monongalia, Harrison and Upshur counties "and elsewhere."
According to the plea agreement, the remaining three charges pending against Gillum - three felony counts of distribution of a Schedule I controlled substance, marijuana will be dismissed by U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey following Gillum's sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
At Friday's hearing, West Virginia State Police Cpl. John Wayne Smith Jr. testified that the investigation involving Gillum began in the summer of 2010, when a large package of marijuana was intercepted. Smith said he later learned Buckley was allegedly the person who coordinated the delivery of packages of marijuana to Gillum and the other defendants for redistribution.
"The way it would work, was Mr. Buckley would contact Beth Ann Brown and Mr. Gillum would meet Mr. Buckley at Ms. Brown's house, and that's where Mr. Gillum would get his portion (of marijuana)," Smith told Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Cogar, who is prosecuting the case.
Count 5 charges Brown with attempting to possess with intent to distribute marijuana "on or about July 30, 2010, at or near French Creek." Brown is also named in Count 11, which charges her with possession with intent to distribute an unspecified quantity of marijuana "on or about" Nov. 15, 2012, at or near French Creek.
As a result of his guilty plea, Gillum faces a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of $1 million or both. A plea hearing in Brown's case is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Elkins' office of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
On Oct. 17, 2013, Upshur County sheriff's deputies arrested Gillum on three felony counts of delivery of marijuana, a controlled substance. The arrest came after deputies allegedly seized 8 pounds of marijuana, $4,000, six firearms, three cellphones and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia from Gillum over a period of several months, Sheriff David Coffman told media outlets at a press conference shortly after Gillum's arrest.
Testimony during Friday's hearing in federal court indicated that police investigators later seized an additional $10,000 from a truck belonging to Gillum.