The agenda for the coming April 28th meeting of the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail Authority indicates a second Authority closed session scheduled to discuss personnel issues related to two inmate overdoses with one fatality on December 12, 2021. The first closed session discussion on potential failures of staff regarding the presence of illegal opioid drugs by inmates inside a wing of the facility occurred at the Authority’s March 24th meeting. The minutes of that March meeting reflecting the superintendent’s open session briefing on the incident, as well as the convening and exiting into and out of closed session for further discussion, are on the April 28 Authority agenda for approval.
Regarding the “Death in Custody Briefing” of RSW Regional Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison on March 24, the meeting minutes state:
“Mr. Gilkison explained that the event took place on the night of December 11 and into the morning of December 12; inmate Daniel Shifflett and inmate Jonte Smith who were both incarcerated; had a medical emergency that was discovered after the fact that it was an overdose. The inmates obtained the heroine (sic) that inmate Shifflett stated that they were taking; from another inmate inside of the housing unit.
“Staff responded to the medical emergency; performed First-Aid, CPR to include AED, administered Narcan, and EMS was called. Mr. Shifflett was revived about the time EMS arrived on the scene, unfortunately, Mr. Smith was not revived by our staff or EMS and was taken via local transport to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on December 12, at 0120 hours (1:20 a.m.).”
As to the move into closed session for further discussion, the minutes note that: “At 3:02 p.m., Mr. Daley (WC Administrator), seconded by Mr. Butler (WC Sheriff), moved to convene in a closed session pursuant to Virginia Code §2.2-3711-A1 for the discussion of personnel matters involving the performance of specific staff that was involved in the recent deaths in custody.” The motion was carried by the following vote: Steven Baker Absent; Garrey Curry Aye, Mark Butler Aye, Edwin Daley Aye, Van Carney Aye, Delores Oates Aye, Tim Carter Aye, Evan Vass Aye, Connie Compton Aye.
“At 5:18 pm, Mr. Daley, seconded by Mr. Butler, moved to reconvene to open session and certified that only public business matters lawfully exempted from the open meeting requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and identified in the motion to go into closed session were heard, discussed, or considered in the closed session.” That motion was approved by the same unanimous consensus listed above, with the one absence.
Inmate overdose survivor Daniel Shifflett, 32, and a second inmate, Brian Martin, 34, were indicted by a Warren County Grand Jury on April 11 for Second-Degree Murder in what is believed to have been the 21-year-old Smith’s accidental death from an opioid drug overdose. Other pending charges against Shifflett, who was incarcerated on a Probation Violation charge related to earlier drug offenses when he overdosed inside the jail, include 10 counts of distribution of a Schedule I or II substance for at least a third offense. Martin is charged with eight counts of distribution of a Schedule I or II substance for at least a third offense. At the time of his death Smith was incarcerated on possession of Schedule I, II drugs and a firearms charge.
Shifflett and Martin have hearing dates in Warren County Circuit Court on May 16. Both are being held without bond at RSW Regional Jail. The direct indictments handed down by the grand jury contained minimal information surrounding the drug distribution and use in the jail culminating with Smith and Shifflett’s overdoses on December 12. However, other paperwork on file in the court clerk’s office provides additional detail as noted in an earlier NVD story. Much of that detail from affidavits attached to search warrants revolve around Martin.
Martin was arrested in the Town of Front Royal on December 3rd after law enforcement chased him down on foot and recovered a bag of what was described as “Scramble” a Fentanyl-based mixture of drugs, that Martin dropped or threw down during the pursuit. Material attached to a search warrant on file related to the case indicates Martin is believed to have snuck opioid drugs into the jail during his December 3rd processing into RSW. He then began distributing those drugs for profit through deposits made into a cash ap in his name for service expenses inmates are charged for while incarcerated. Those deposits were apparently made by non-incarcerated associates of inmates seeking the drugs.
Several inmates have since failed urine tests, including Martin, who was discovered to have a bag of powder believed to be heroin stuffed down his pants in the wake of the December 12 overdose incident and fatality.
Contacted about the timing of the grand jury indictments nearly four months to the day after the Smith overdose fatality, Warren County Commonwealth Attorney John Bell said that newly convened grand jury was the first seated after his staff was able to sit down with Warren County Sheriff’s Office investigators to get a summary of their findings. After that briefing his staff felt confident in proceeding with charges against Shifflett and Martin related to the overdose death of inmate Smith, Bell indicated. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Nick Manthos is lead prosecutor in the Shifflett and Martin cases.
Royal Examiner has tried to acquire additional information on the suspected drug distribution scheme inside the jail that led to Shifflett and Martin facing essentially the same legal liability in Smith’s death. However, jail officials, prosecutors, and investigators are limited in public comment on the cases due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Deputies rescue suspected impaired driver from pond after crash
At approximately 11am today, the Frederick County Emergency Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call stating that a SUV had driven off the roadway and into a pond in the area of Papermill Rd. and Harrsion Ln. The caller stated the driver was still in the vehicle and was not moving.
Deputies arriving first on the scene observed the vehicle, partially submerged in the water up to it’s hood, and could see the driver slumped over the wheel. Deputy Jason Hawse and Deputy Nick Dempsey removed their outer vests and gun belts and entered the frigid water to assist the unconscious subject. With outside temps of 27 degrees, and windchill making it feel more like 13 degrees, Hawse and Dempsey worked quickly, in the chest-high water, breaking the windows on the vehicle and pulling the subject out. Once getting the male driver to land, one dose of Narcan was administered and the subject regained consciousness a few moments later.
The driver, identified as Michael Surgent, 35, of Mechanicsville, Va. was immediately attended to by deputies awaiting EMTs to medically evaluate him for exposure. Based on witness statements, and evidence recovered later from the vehicle, it is believed that Surgent was “huffing” chemicals from aerosol cans resulting in his losing consciousness, and proper control of his vehicle. Surgent was taken to Winchester Medical Center and held for further medical evaluations. He has been charged with huffing chemicals, reckless driving and driving under the influence.
All deputies were checked on scene and cleared for duty, once out of their wet uniforms and warmed back up. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both pleased with, and proud of, the swift and selfless actions taken by his personnel, saying “This could have been much worse and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured in this incident”.
Winchester man facing multiple charges after pursuit
A Winchester man is behind bars on multiple charges after he fled law enforcement Thursday (Jan. 19).
Virginia State Police have charged John P. Scaperotto, 44, in Frederick County, with two felony counts of possession of a schedule I/II drug, one felony count of eluding law enforcement, one felony count of assault on law enforcement, one misdemeanor count of reckless driving, one misdemeanor count of driving on a revoked license, one misdemeanor count of fictitious vehicle registration, one misdemeanor count of operating an uninsured vehicle, and one misdemeanor count of littering.
Scaperotto was also charged with several traffic infractions, including speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to stop at a red light, and failure to wear a seatbelt. He was also wanted out of Frederick County for failure to appear in court.
State Police initiated the traffic stop at approximately 8:10 a.m., as a Chevrolet pick-up truck was traveling south on Route 37 in Frederick County. The violation was for speeding – as the Chevrolet was driving 80 mph in a posted 65 mph zone. The Chevrolet refused to stop, and a pursuit was initiated.
The pursuit continued onto Route 50 and Route 522 before continuing back onto Route 37, where Chevrolet crossed the median and entered the southbound travel lanes traveling north. As the Chevrolet crossed back into the median, it attempted again to go in the wrong direction.
A state trooper struck the Chevrolet with his patrol car in an attempt to stop it from going in the wrong direction. The Chevrolet continued northbound, traveling in the right direction, where it eventually ran off the left side of the roadway into the median and collided with a guardrail. The driver, Scaperotto, was taken into custody and transported to the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, where he was held without bond.
One trooper suffered minor injuries during the course of the pursuit.
The pursuit reached speeds of up to 100 mph.
Traffic stop by WCSO results in drug arrests and significant property seizure
On January 5, 2023, at 08:18 PM, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy T. Poe conducted a traffic stop on a white 1999 Mercury passenger vehicle at the intersection of Winchester Road and Riverton Road. The vehicle was stopped for making an illegal left turn from Strasburg Road onto Route 522.
A subsequent search of the vehicle and its occupants revealed a bag containing approximately 22 grams of white powdery substance purported to be crack cocaine, nine small rocks of suspected cocaine, several drug paraphernalia, smoking devices, and $16,398 in United States Currency.
The vehicle, currency, and drugs were seized pursuant to the arrests of the occupants. The driver, Arthur L. Summers (age 62) of Front Royal, and his passenger Melissa P. Myers (age 58) of Arlington, Virginia, were arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver (PWID) crack cocaine (§18.2-248 of Code of Virginia) and possession of drug paraphernalia (§18.2-251).
Baltimore, MD resident arrested after investigation by the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force
The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force has concluded a two-month-long investigation with the arrest of a Baltimore, MD, resident.
The investigation led the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force officers to Prince William County, where they arrested Reginald L. Morgan, 56, on Friday (Jan. 13, 2023). He was taken into custody without incident in the 14400 block of Lee Highway in Gainesville. At the time of his arrest, Morgan had 2.5 ounces of powder cocaine and 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine in his possession. The drugs seized have an estimated street value of $17,500.
Throughout the investigation, Morgan had been identified as a significant supplier of cocaine to the Culpeper area.
Morgan was charged with one felony count of distribution of Schedule I/II drug (3rd or subsequent offense) and one felony count of transporting Schedule I/II drug into the Commonwealth with the intent to sell or distribute. Morgan was transported to the Prince William County Adult Detention Center, where he was held without bond.
The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force comprises law enforcement personnel from the Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Madison, and Rappahannock Sheriff’s Offices, Culpeper, Warrenton, Orange Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office charge local business owner with possession of child pornography
The owner/operator of the Winchester Skating and Family Fun Center, located at 1629 Berryville Pike in Winchester, was arrested on January 13th on two counts of possession of child pornography and Driving Under the Influence.
Multiple allegations of taking indecent liberties with a minor were made against Edgar Jackson by several former female employees of the business.
The victims, all juveniles at the time of the alleged offenses, are adults and came forward wishing to have the matter looked into. The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the sheriff’s office interviewed the victims and, based on the information obtained, executed a search warrant at the business on January 10th.
Items of evidentiary value were seized, including electronic devices that were forensically examined and found to contain photographs of child pornography. Based on these initial findings, investigators obtained two warrants for possession of child pornography and placed a lookout for Jackson for arrest.
Friday afternoon, Jackson was located by sheriff’s office deputies behind the wheel of a Chrysler 300 passenger car on Martinsburg Pike (Route 11 North) at the I-81 interchange, where a traffic stop was executed. Jackson was transporting a 16-year-old male at the time and was found to have a blood alcohol content above the .08 legal limit. Jackson was arrested for DUI and transported to the regional adult detention center on that violation and for service of the two outstanding warrants. At the time of this release, Jackson was being held without bond.
Preliminary investigations indicate these offenses and allegations have been limited to juvenile employees of the business, and future charges are pending. Anyone with additional information pertaining to this ongoing investigation is requested to contact Frederick County Sheriff’s Office CID at 540-504-6577.
Bristol man sentenced to 20 years in prison for meth and firearms convictions
A Bristol, Virginia man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for possessing with the intent to distribute crystal ice methamphetamine and for illegal possession of a firearm.
William Everett Himes, 38, was convicted after pleading guilty in June 2021 to one count of possessing with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crystal ice methamphetamine and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to court documents, the charges stem from a Washington County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office traffic stop in January 2020, where Himes fled from police and was later found to be in possession of crystal ice methamphetamine. A loaded .45 caliber firearm and more crystal ice methamphetamine were recovered from the front passenger seat of Himes’ vehicle. During Himes’ arrest, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm due to prior felony drug and violent crime convictions, including two 2012 felony convictions in Bristol, Virginia, related to methamphetamine.
United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Washington Division, made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Special Assistant United States Attorney M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, a Virginia Senior Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Attorney General’s Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section, prosecuted the case for the United States.