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VanCamp pleads guilty to operation of meth drug lab

By Staff | May 7, 2014

John M. VanCamp, 46, pleaded guilty in Tyler County Circuit Court Thursday to an information charge of operating a clandestine drug laboratory, manufacturing methamphetamine.

VanCamp, who is presently serving time for the same offense, waived his right of prosecution by indictment and agreed to proceed by way of information. He told Judge Mark A. Karl, he was indeed guilty of the felony offense of operating the drug lab at 1955 Veterans Highway in Tyler County. He told the court he understood the charges against him and he was freely and voluntarily pleading guilty to the charge. He also understood the penalty for the crime.

Prosecutor Luke Furbee told the court that on Sept. 5, 2013, Sheriff Deputy Shannon Huffman conducted a traffic stop north of Middlebourne. The defendant who was driving the vehicle appeared to have dilated eyes. Huffman noticed a small bag sticking out of the defendant’s wallet and when he asked him to step out of the car, he stuffed the wallet between the seat. Huffman restrained VanCamp and then discovered a powdery substance in the bag. It was later found to be methamphetamine. A search of the defendant’s garage at 1955 Veterans Highway found items to operate a Meth. Lab. Furbee said he had evidence to show that VanCamp would purchase Sudafed two to four times per week, yielding one to one-and-a-half grams of meth.

VanCamp admitted to all the charges and evidence against him on Thursday, Judge Mark A. Karl imposed a sentence of two to 10 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for men to run consecutive to his current sentence. VanCamp was remanded to the West Virginia Department of Corrections.

Tanya A. Smith, 47, of Paden City, also appeared before Judge Karl alongside her attorney, John Gainer of the Public Defender Corporation. Gainer told the court they had reached a plea agreement in the case. Gainer made a motion on behalf of his client to withdraw innocent pleas to the charges from her indictment. Smith then pleaded guilty to one felony count of first offense arson and to one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals. Counts two and three of the four-count indictment were dismissed per the plea agreement.

Smith told the court that on the night of the fire which destroyed her home she had been drinking and may have had as many as 10 drinks. She said she was not doing drugs. He said she couldn’t remember exactly what happened.

Prosecutor Furbee said if the case were to go to trial he would show the defendant deliberately set her home on fire and it was a failed suicide attempt. He also said there was evidence that she made a phone call to her neighbor to inform him of her intentions. All of this occurred on the evening of June 21, 2013, in Paden City. He said Smith had suffered severe burns and had to be taken to West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. He said she climbed out on a porch roof and was rescued.

Karl said the court finds a factual basis for the guilty plea by her own admission and the state’s evidence. He said he would impose the sentence recommended. He then sentenced Smith to not less than two nor more than 20 years on the arson charge in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Women and one year in the North Central Regional Jail for the charge of cruelty to animals. Both sentences were then suspended and she was placed on two years supervised probation and six months home confinement. Her sentence of two years probation was to start immediately and the home confinement would commence in July. She will also be responsible for restitution which will be determined at a later date. She was ordered to meet with Chief Probation Officer John Lantz and to return to court July 3 for imposition of home confinement.

Gary J. Willey Jr., 33, of New Martinsville, appeared alongside his attorney, Shane Mallett, for a possible plea agreement. Mallett said there has been an agreement reached but he needs an additional two weeks for his client to come up with the rest of the money to make restitution. He said he has half and will have the rest soon. Willey is charged with two counts of embezzlement. Karl ordered Willey’s bond to continue and for him to return to court on May 23.

Brandon L. Rodriguez, 25, of New Martinsville, represented by John Gainer of the Public Defenders Corp., was in court for a plea agreement. Gainer told Karl there is a plea agreement and his client has part of the money to make restitution but is waiting on the rest of his income tax refund. He said a mistake had been made by the firm doing his taxes and he has a letter to that effect. He said he should have it in the next two weeks. Rodriguez is charged in a one-count indictment of obtaining money under false pretenses. He is currently free on bond. Judge Karl allowed his bond to continue and ordered him to return to court on May 23.

Seth M. Morris, 25, of Middlebourne, who last appeared in court on March 13, returned on Thursday for a possible plea to charges handed down from the February grand jury. Morris is charged with two felony offenses and one misdemeanor offense relating to a breaking and entering of a building other than a dwelling.

John Gainer, attorney for Morris, stated he would like a trial date. Since the term of court is nearing an end, Gainer said his client was willing to waive his right to a speedy trial. Karl allowed Morris’ bond to continue and ordered him to return on June 5 for a trial date.

Matthew D. Witsoe, 25, of Beverly, W.Va., appeared with his attorney Brent Clyburn for a plea to his indictment from the February term of the grand jury. Witsoe was charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts resulting from a breaking and entering at the Valley Grange in Tyler County.

Clyburn told the court there has been a plea agreement between the defendant and the state. Witsoe withdrew his innocent plea to the charges and entered a plea of guilty to count three of the indictment, a felony offense of conspiracy to commit an offense against the state. He told the court he broke into the Valley Grange building by kicking in the door and breaking a window. As a condition of the agreement Witsoe must make restitution to the victims and agree to give evidence against the other individual in the case. He must also pay the cost of his prosecution, plus fees, and all the fees related to his probation. Counts one, two, and four were dismissed per the agreement.

Prosecutor Furbee gave the court the evidence they had to present if the case were to go to trial. He said footprints found at the site and on the door matched the shoes of the defendant. He also said the defendant gave a statement which he would introduce.

Karl sentenced Witsoe to one to five years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men. He then suspended the sentence and placed him on two years supervised probation. He was given credit for time served.

Barbara A. Wells-Mease, 37, of Moundsville, W.Va., appeared for a continuance of a bond revocation hearing. Her attorney, John Gainer, said she had still not filled out her financial eligibility papers. Judge Karl again told her she needed to fill out the papers. He passed the case to June 5. She was then remanded back to jail.

Randy L. Kuehne, 43, of South Bloomfield, Ohio, is charged with the felony offense of failure to meet an obligation to provide child support. He was in court alongside his court appointed attorney John Gainer.

Prosecutor Luke Furbee said he believes there can be a resolution in the case if he can get the information from Gainer. Karl then passed the case until June 5. He allowed Kuehne to remain free on bond and ordered him stay in contact with his attorney.

Howard P. Shriver, 34, presently incarcerated, appeared in court alongside his attorney Jay Gerber on Thursday. Shriver is charged in an 11-count indictment handed down by the February 2012 grand jury. On Thursday Shriver waived his right to have a trial within the term of the grand jury. Judge Karl passed the case until May 23 and ordered Shriver to be remanded and return at that date.

Daniel Finley, 26, of Middlebourne, appeared with his attorney, Brent Clyburn, for a ruling on admissibility of statements. Finley is charged with third degree sexual assault. Karl ruled the statement admissible and ordered him to return to court on May 23. He was allowed to remain free on bond and told to stay in contact with his attorney.

DeWayne A. Nutting, 29, presently incarcerated, is facing three counts from the February term of the grand jury. Count one alleges he committed the felony offense of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 18. Count two charges he committed the felony offense of malicious assault by kicking the child in the abdomen with steel toe shoes. Count three charges a misdemeanor offense of domestic battery. Prosecutor Furbee has received discovery and response and needs more time to conduct interviews. Judge Karl passed the case until June 5. He remanded Nutting back to jail.