DAWN REED GUEST COLUMNIST
August 16, 2012
WILLIAMSON - Mingo County Magistrate Court experienced an extremely busy docket on Thursday, including the arraignments of two defendants who had been arrested within the last week on drug related charges and were transported from the Southwestern Regional Jail (SWVRJA) at Holden to answer additional counts brought against them, including those of state wiretapping.
On August 9, a drug raid planned and executed by the Williamson City Police Department and Mingo County Special Investigator Eugene Crum occurred at the Vinson Street residence in Williamson of Christina Tidwell, 24, where she, along with Christopher Cline, 40, and Robert “Warren” Wilson, 29, both of Williamson, and a male from Columbus, Ohio who was listed as a John Doe, aka “Black,” were all arrested and charged with multiple criminal counts including intent to deliver cocaine, crack cocaine, oxycodone and marijuana.
Arrested the same evening at a nearby motel in a related case were Brittiney Cousin, 24, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio and Albert “Trey” Childress, 42, of Williamson, who also charged with drug offenses. The police report filed by Williamson Police Chief C.D. Rockel stated that all the defendants attempted to flee from the police during the raid.
On Thursday, Tidwell, Cline and “Black”, whose legal name is Malcolm Waters appeared before Mingo Magistrate Pam Newsome. Waters waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was remanded back to the custody of the SWVRJA where he is being held on a $1 million bond.
During the court proceedings, Tidwell and Cline quickly found themselves in more trouble with law enforcement officials as they were each charged with two counts of state wiretapping charges, two counts of intercepting electronic communications, and two counts of conspiring to intercept or disclose electronic communications.
Cline was also charged with aiding escape and other offenses relating to adults in custody or confinement after he attempted to smuggle two cigarettes into the SWVRJA that he received from an unknown subject while in the municipal building for his arraignment hearing.
According to the criminal complaints for both defendants filed by Chief Rockel pertaining to the accusations of wiretapping, on or about August 3, defendant Christopher Cline along with Christina Tidwell, did by way of phone and computer device, record a private and privileged conversation and/or interview, stemming from a criminal investigation between Mingo County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Sherrill, Mingo County Special Investigator Eugene Crum and James Cline, identified as the brother of the defendant.
Tidwell was accused of knowingly taping the conversation between the victims, while at the residence of James Cline, which is located on Logan Street in Williamson, at the direction and instruction of Christopher Cline.
Cline, knowing that he was not privileged to the communication, was said to have instructed Tidwell to use her personal computer to tape the conversation, by way of placing a phone inside the residence unbeknown to the victims and without their permission, and then instructed her to exited the Logan Street residence, recording the conversations that could be heard over the hidden phone on the computer located at Tidwell’s Vinson Street residence.
Tidwell later allegedly attempted to copy the ill-gotten recordings for disclosure and release after she is said to have been approached by Williamson based Private Investigator Donald Stevens, in an attempt to obtain the recordings and their content and is furthermore said to have provided Tidwell with additional electronic devices to do so.
During the arraignment hearings on the wiretapping charges, Christopher Cline acted in a hostile manner toward the law enforcement officers present outside the courtroom, and made derogatory and threatening comments to Chief Rockel, remarking that, “We’re going to have some fun with this,” to the chief, referring to the new charges.
Inside the courtroom, Cline repeatedly used profanity and spoke in a loud voice and was observed to be acting in a very arrogant manner toward members of the local media. He demanded that he be quoted on the front page of the Williamson Daily News in big, bold letters as saying that “the whole ****ing town of Williamson was going down, and we could take that promise to the bank.”
Tidwell and Cline were both remanded back to the custody of the SWVRJA authorities. Tidwell’s bond was set at $120,000, while Cline is being held without bond due to a fugitive from justice charge against him in Kentucky.
Special Investigator Crum praised Chief Rockel and the members of his department for the clean execution of the raid, and stated that he looks forward to continuing this trend in the next few months while he serves in the capacity of special investigator through the Mingo County Prosecutor’s office, and after Jan. 1, 2013, when he will begin serving the citizens of Mingo County as their newly elected sheriff.
“This is the platform I ran on for the office of sheriff,” said Crum. “I promised that illegal drug activity would be my foremost concern and my number one priority if I were elected.
“I’m a man of my word, and I fully intend to keep that promise to each and every resident within Mingo County that I will work hard to make this a safe place to live, work and raise your families.”
Crum told the Daily News that the recent drug arrests involving Tidwell and Cline that escalated into other charges is still an open investigation and could possibly yield further arrests.
“We’re reclaiming our county, we’re taking it back from the drug suppliers who have for too long, flew under the radar. No more. We’re organizing, planning and training officers in several fields who will be a huge asset in fighting the drug war and other illegal activity in our communities and I promise you that it will get better.”
If you have information on illegal drug activity or other suspicious activity that you would like to report to local law enforcement, you are encouraged to contact your local city/municipality police departments, the MCSD, or the Williamson Detachment of the WVSP. You are not required to give your name, only the tips involving the alleged crime you are reporting.