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Guilty pleas accepted in circuit court

PAMELA SCOTT JOHNSON Staff Writer

March 19, 2013

Rachel Dove-Baldwin


Staff Writer


WILLIAMSON — Two defendants who were arrested and indicted as a result of the “Operation Zero Tolerance” investigation, along with three others arrested on unrelated charges, have now entered guilty pleas in Mingo County Circuit Court before the Honorable Judge Michael Thornsbury.


Earl Blankenship, Indictment J13-F19; pleaded guilty to delivery of a Schedule I controlled substance (Marijuana). Blankenship is exposed to a sentence of confinement in a state correctional facility for an indefinite term of not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years. Blankenship was represented by Attorney Marsha Webb-Rumora. Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) Corporal N. Mines was the primary investigating officer.


Richard Lee Ellis, Indictment J13-F75; entered a guilty plea to conspiracy (Fraudulent Schemes). Ellis was sentenced to a 1-5 year prison sentence and was issued a fine in the amount of $1,000.00. Ellis was represented during the plea and sentencing hearing by Attorney Joshua S. Ferrell. Mingo County Sheriff’s Department Corporal J. Endicott was the investigating officer in this case.


Matthew Shane Riffe, Indictment J13-F8; pleaded guilty to conspiracy to enter of a building other than a dwelling as charged in Indictment J13-F8. Riffe received a sentence in a state correctional facility for an indefinite term of 1-5 years and was fined $1,000.00. In addition, Riffe is required by the plea agreement to pay restitution of $5,400.00 to the WV Department of Highways. Riffe was represented by Attorney Diana Carter Wiedel. West Virginia State Police (WVSP) Sergeant C. F. Kane was the investigating officer.


Bria Elaine Samples, Indictment J13-F41; entered a plea of guilty to attempt, delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance(Hydrocodone), a lesser included offense of delivery of a schedule III controlled substance. Samples faces a sentence of 1-3 years in a state prison facility. The defendant was represented by Attorney Jerry M. Lyall. MCSD Sheriff E. Crum and Williamson Police Chief C. D. Rockel were the investigating officers in this case.


Donnie Allen West, Indictment J13-F9; pleaded guilty to conspiracy to enter a building other than a dwelling, as charged in the Indictment. West was sentenced to confinement in a state correctional facility for an indefinite term of not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years and was fined $1,000.00. In addition, West is required by the plea agreement to pay restitution of $5,400.00 to the WV Department of Highways. The defendant was represented by Attorney Jonathan “Duke” Jewell. WVSP Sergeant C. F. Kane was the primary investigating officer.


Blankenship and Samples are scheduled to be sentenced on April 24 at 9:30 a.m. in circuit court.