Heroin Deal Lands Long In Penitentiary
In one of his final acts in office, Circuit Judge John T. Madden sentenced a New Martinsville man to one to 15 years and one to five years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men for drug charges involving heroin and marijuana.
Bryan Michael Long, 21, of 130 N. Bridge St., Chapel View
Apartments, Apt. B2, received the sentence Dec. 31 after a sentencing hearing that involved testimony from his grandfather, mother, and uncle. His family recounted how the man got hooked on pain killers and his habit escalated, even though he sought, and was continuing to seek, help.
William Fox, mayor of Paden City, said it was about four or five years ago that he recognized his grandson’s drug problem that started with some pain pills prescribed for an injury incurred while the two were mowing grass. When Fox spotted the problem, he said he talked with law enforcement officials, seeking help. “I felt frustrated and stressed,” said Fox.
He recounted that the family stepped in and tried to help Long. He had gone to some different clinics by his own volition, even awakened at 4:30 a.m. so he could attend a clinic in Wheeling before going to work as a boilermaker.
“I feel somewhere along the line I let my grandson down,” lamented Fox. “He was selling because he needed the money to support his habit.”
Wetzel County Prosecutor Timothy Haught refuted that notion, saying, “The problem I have with that is they’re spreading death. They have to get it from somebody. They have to get turned onto it by somebody. It’s the state’s position that you’re responsible for all that goes along with that.”
Long’s uncle, Sistersville Mayor David Fox, also testified that Long has sought help for his drug problem. “He has gone to rehab. He’s tried everything he can to get straightened up,” said David Fox.
Also a boilermaker, David Fox helped Long obtain his employment. He has worked for his uncle and been a good employee, but he has sometimes had attendance problems when working on other jobs, reported his uncle who indicated Long had fallen victim to peer pressure. “There’s a tremendous problem out there in the construction field. It needs to be stopped, but I don’t know how you stop it,” said David Fox. “He needs some help. He needs some guidance. He needs somebody to watch him.”
That is exactly what the New Martinsville Police Department was doing on July 13, 2008, when they witnessed Long sell heroin. NMPD Detective Donnie Harris testified that in the last few years heroin trafficking has become “quite a problem” in the city. Consequently the department has been focusing on the very addictive drug, working with a confidential informant for the past three years.
About six months prior to the arrest, Harris said his department received word that heroin was being sold from the Chapel View Apartments. Finally, a supplier, Long, was identified and they witnessed a heroin purchase from Long, who initially resisted arrest but then cooperated. Police found a total of seven stamps of heroin, five of which had been sold for $180, and nine marijuana plants growing in his apartment.
Harris said Long would not divulge where he got his heroin, but the detective believes it is from the north, somewhere like Weirton or Pittsburgh.
“I believe it is probably one of the most dangerous drugs,” testified Harris who added that it has many of the same qualities as pain pills. “That’s kind of a starting point,” he said of an addition to heroin.
“It is our position that this is a very serious offense,” said Haught. Heroin is a growing problem in northern West Virginia and he expects there will be more arrests and prosecutions in Wetzel and Tyler counties related to the drug.
“There’s no excuse for participating in this serious criminal conduct,” said the prosecutor as he reiterated that a stiff sentence sends a message that it will not be tolerated as it also removes Long from the drug culture that entices him to continue his addiction.
Defense Attorney Kevin Neiswonger argued that unlike many first-time defendants that admit a problem and ask for help after they are in trouble, Long has sought help already. “It’s not the situation where he’s admitting this because he got caught,” said Neiswonger. “I hate to see us just give up on him when he’s trying so hard to get clean.”
Long has been married to Randelin Long for approximately a year-and-a-half and they are raising her young daughter. Both David Fox and Long’s mother described him as a “great dad”.
Haught refuted that notion in his argument, saying, “The state’s position is that great fathers don’t sell heroin or grow marijuana. That doesn’t make him a great father in my book.”
Long made a statement to the court, saying, “I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I do not believe that jail is where I need to be. My addiction has torn apart my family. I never profited from selling drugs. I do not think I had a choice-only an addict will understand where I’m coming from.”
Seeming to verbally weigh the arguments in the case, Madden said, “It’s not difficult at all to listen to the family and hear their sincerity.” He added that the prison system is terribly deficient for rehabilitation and the chance for recovery is better on the outside. However, he said, “The community cries out for something to be done.”
Madden further said, “It’s very difficult to punish an addict because they have a disease.” He said he was considering Long’s age, that he is a family man, is willing to work, and has a built-in support group of family.
But he ended his verbal thinking process or explanation with, “The defendant in this case has been less than candid.”
It was then that Madden sentenced Long, who had pleaded guilty on Dec. 5, to one to 15 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men for possession of a controlled substance (heroin), with intent to deliver, and one to five years in the WVPM for manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana). The sentences are to run concurrently and he is to pay all costs of prosecution. Long’s attorney can file a motion for sentence reconsideration under Rule 35. He was transported to the Northern Regional Jail to be delivered to the Commissioner of Corrections.
An additional count of delivery of a controlled substance, heroin, was dismissed.