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Two sentenced for roles in Maryland-to-Virginia heroin pipeline that resulted in fatal overdose

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Two individuals connected with a heroin trafficking conspiracy that brought heroin from Maryland into Shenandoah County, Virginia, and caused one fatal and one non-fatal overdose were sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and Jesse Fong, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Field Office made the announcement today.

James Harold Lichliter, 52, of Mauretown, Va., was sentenced to 144 months in federal prison. In a separate hearing, Jonathan Dale Neice, 42, of Woodstock, Va., was sentenced to 132 months incarceration.

Both Lichliter and Neice previously pleaded guilty to one count of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute resulting in the death of J.H. and the serious bodily injury of J.W. Co-defendants Craig Kidwell, Norma Kidwell, and Stacy Allen Marston are awaiting sentencing.

“The scourge of heroin is a deadly killer that does not discriminate.  This office will do all it can to stem the tide and prosecute anyone who participates in its distribution in our communities,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar said today. “We will use all available resources and continue to closely partner with federal, state and local law enforcement to hold drug dealers like Lichliter and Neice, who seek to profit from this treacherous epidemic, responsible for their actions.”

According to court documents, beginning around June 2017 a Maryland-based drug-trafficking network began selling controlled substances to Virginia-based drug traffickers, who, in turn, transported those drugs to Shenandoah County for redistribution.

Defendants Craig Kidwell and his wife Norma Kidwell repeatedly traveled from their home in Shenandoah County to Maryland to obtain heroin from the Maryland-based drug-trafficking organization. At times, the heroin Craig Kidwell and Norma Kidwell obtained from their Maryland-based source was mixed with other drugs, such as fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl.

After obtaining heroin, Craig Kidwell and Norma Kidwell transported the drugs back to Shenandoah County where the drugs were redistributed to others, including, but not limited to, co-defendants Lichliter, Marston, and Neice, who redistributed the drugs to others around Shenandoah County.

As a direct result of the defendants’ drug distribution activities, two overdoses occurred, one of which resulted in the death of victim J.H.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia State Police, Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, and Woodstock Police Department with the assistance of the Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.  Assistant United States Attorney Jeb Terrien is prosecuting the case for the United States.

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Frederick County authorities seek ‘person of interest’ in Middletown shooting death

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The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim and a “person of interest” being sought for questioning regarding the shooting death in the Middletown McDonald’s parking lot in the early morning hours of October 27th.

The 41-year-old victim is now identified as Keith Tolson.

A person of interest being sought for questioning in Tolson’s death is Jonathan Daniel Mihokovich. The public is advised not to approach Mihokovich if encountered. Rather, call 911 or contact local law enforcement concerning Mihokovich’s whereabouts.

Mihokovich has four current warrants, three drug-related and one for failure to appear.

Above, security video of suspect; below, security footage of suspect vehicle identified as a Ford F-150 extended cab pickup. ‘Person of Interest’ Jonathan Mihokovich should NOT be approached. Call 911 or local law enforcement if spot or have information on whereabouts. Photos FCSO

Tolson was last seen running from the Liberty gas station across Reliance Road towards the McDonald’s restaurant and Econo Lodge hotel. Video evidence shows a pickup truck almost strike and then pursue the victim off the lot and out of camera frame. Shortly afterwards, witnesses report hearing two gunshots and called 9-1-1.

(Info from a release and source information)

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Commonwealth alters course in prosecution of George Good in Brinklow murder case

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In an unexpected development in the murder case of 20-year-old Tristen Brinklow, three charges against one of the men accused of Brinklow’s 2019 murder were nul-prosed by the prosecution Friday afternoon, October 30, in Warren County General District Court.

Those charges dropped against George Lee Good, 28, are First Degree murder, abduction and disposal of Brinklow’s body. However, Assistant Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond made it clear the move was not the end of Good’s involvement in the Brinklow murder case.

She informed Judge W. Dale Houff that new direct indictments to the Grand Jury were on the horizon for Good regarding the Brinklow murder. Good remains incarcerated in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail (RSW Jail) on other charges.

George Lee Good – Photo/RSW Jail website

Brinklow’s mother and two other relatives or friends were present to watch Friday’s hearing. Hammond spoke briefly with them in the courtroom during a recess during which Good and his attorney Aaron Burgin left the courtroom to consult privately. The prosecutor also met with them for a longer period in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office following adjournment after the nul prosequi announcement. The Brinklow contingent did not seem upset by the prosecution’s strategic turn.

Burgin declined to comment on the prosecution’s move following the hearing, noting the promise of new direct felony indictments against his client regarding the case.

The other man charged in Brinklow’s murder, 35-year-old Richard Matthew Crouch has already been indicted on multiple felony counts, including First Degree Murder, by the Grand Jury. A scheduled October 13 Circuit Court hearing on Crouch’s charges was continued to November 9, on the 9 a.m. docket. In addition to First Degree Murder, felony charges against Crouch include Abduction by Force, Concealment of a Dead Body and Physical Defilement of a Dead Body.

As previously reported, in the criminal complaints against the men in the Brinklow murder case it is stated that after being informed of his Miranda Right not to self-incriminate, Crouch gave law enforcement officials a description of the circumstance of Brinklow’s death.

Richard Matthew Crouch – Photo/NRADC

“Mathew (sic) Crouch stated that he and George Good physically assaulted and bound Tristan (sic) Brinklow in a residence, within Front Royal. He stated this assault led to the death of Brinklow. Crouch stated they placed Brinklow into a refrigerator and attempted to conceal the refrigerator at Digs Landing by placing vegetation on and around the refrigerator,” the criminal complaints state, adding, “Crouch provided information against his penal interests, while under Miranda Advisement, and provided information not known to the general public but was confirmed by evidence at the crime scene.”

In a nod to the previous misspelling of Brinklow’s first name in earlier court documents, Hammond also made a motion to amend the spelling to the correct “Tristen” when Friday’s hearing first reconvened following the recess.

Tristen Brinklow, from his Facebook page sporting a perhaps now ironic warning reference to a ‘zombie apocalypse’ television show.

Trial or hearing dates on some of Good’s unrelated cases were set during an earlier portion of Good’s court appearance Friday afternoon handled by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Matt Beyrau. Good will return to General District Court December 21-22 on a misdemeanor firearms charge and a January 20, 2021 date was set related to a jail assault charge against Good involving another inmate. Hearing discussion indicated Good has been involved in “a number of” inmate altercations during his incarceration.

Case background

Also as previously reported by Royal Examiner, files in the case date Brinklow’s murder to September 28-29, 2019. His body was discovered in the Rivermont area of southwestern Warren County just over two months later, on December 2. The body was not identified as Tristen Brinklow until December 16. Crouch and Good were charged for murder in the case on December 31. Both men were incarcerated without bond on unrelated violent crimes at the time the Warren County Sheriff’s Office brought the charges in the Brinklow case against them, Crouch at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County (RSW) Regional Jail and Good at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center (NRADC) in Frederick County.

Good was arrested in Frederick County at a DUI check point on December 7 (2019). At the time he was wanted in connection with a non-fatal November 27 shooting on the 200 block of Cloud Street in a residential area adjacent to Front Royal’s Downtown Business District.

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Photos of Middletown murder suspect, suspect vehicle released

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Middletown murder suspect – Photos/Frederick County Sheriff’s Office

The investigation into the early morning shooting and killing of a 41-year-old white male continues. The victim (whose name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin) was last seen running from the Liberty gas station and across Reliance Road towards the McDonald’s restaurant and Econo Lodge hotel.

Video evidence shows a pickup truck almost strike and then pursue the victim off the lot and out of camera frame. Shortly afterwards, witnesses report hearing two gunshots and called 9-1-1.

The public is now being asked to assist investigators with identifying the suspect and/or the suspect vehicle.

The suspect photo has been pulled from video surveillance monitors, we are aware this takes away some quality of the image, but it clearly shows the suspect as a thin white male wearing a dark-colored long sleeve shirt, jeans, camo ball cap and appearing to have some slight “scruff” or facial hair growth. “NIKE” is written on the front of the shirt in green lettering that cannot be seen in the photo.

The suspect vehicle appears to be an older model gold or silver Ford F-150 extended cab pickup with the small seating area behind the driver and passenger. The vehicle has some rust on the lower portion of the passenger door and two decals (upper right corner & lower left corner) on the back glass.

Murder suspect’s vehicle – if you have info call Frederick County Crime Solvers at 540-665-8477 (TIPS)

Anyone who can identify this subject or knows the whereabouts of this truck, is asked to call the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office at 540-662-6162 or Frederick County Crime Solvers at 540-665-8477 (TIPS).

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Early morning shooting leaves one man dead at Reliance Road McDonald’s

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On October 27, 2020, at approximately 3:19 AM, deputies with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to 85 Reliance Road for a report of shots fired. Arriving deputies located a white male down in the parking lot of the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant suffering from apparent gunshot wounds and now deceased.

A perimeter was established, to secure the area, and FCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division was contacted to respond to begin seeking out witnesses and processing evidence. This is an active investigation, only hours old, with new developments and evidence continuing to be discovered, and so no further details will be released at this time so as not to compromise the investigation. The victim is not being identified at this time pending notification of next of kin.

We would like to point out, for the peace of mind of the general public, and those living near the crime scene, that we do not believe this to be a random act of violence or of any lingering threat to other citizens in that area.

Anyone who believes they may have information about this shooting is asked to call investigator R. T. Swartz at 540-662-6162. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call local Crime Solvers at 540-665-TIPS (8477).

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Suboxone manufacturer Indivior’s former chief executive officer sentenced to jail time in connection with drug safety claims

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Shaun Thaxter, the former chief executive officer of Indivior PLC, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to 6 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 and forfeit $500,000. Thaxter pleaded guilty to a one-count misdemeanor information on June 30, 2020, for his role in causing the introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded shipments of the opioid drug Suboxone Film, a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar announced the sentence today.

Thaxter served as Indivior’s top executive from 2009 until shortly before his guilty plea. This includes the time period prior to December 2014 when Indivior was known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals. When Indivior was known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, it was a subsidiary of British conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB Group). RB Group paid $1.4 billion in 2019 to resolve its liability to the United States related to the marketing of Suboxone. On July 24, 2020, an Indivior subsidiary called Indivior Solutions pleaded guilty to a one-count felony information for false statements related to health care matters, and together with Indivior, agreed to pay an additional $600 million to resolve liability to the United States related to the marketing of Suboxone. On August 26, 2020, Indivior’s former medical director, Timothy Baxter, pleaded guilty to a one-count misdemeanor information for a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act related to the marketing of Suboxone. Indivior Solutions and Baxter have not yet been sentenced.

Suboxone Film is a drug product approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. Suboxone’s active ingredient, buprenorphine, is a powerful and addictive opioid. Thaxter was charged in connection with Indivior’s misrepresentations regarding the safety of Suboxone Film.

“While Thaxter served for years as Indivior’s chief executive, he was in a position to ensure that doctors, patients, and insurers were dealt with honestly,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar said today. “Instead, Thaxter failed to prevent efforts to build profits through misleading safety claims, which led to millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains for Indivior. As the Court recognized today, this sentence should serve as a deterrence to other pharmaceutical executives. Today’s sentencing is also the product of years of work and could not have happened without the close federal and state law enforcement partnerships, for which we are grateful.”

“Families and communities across the Commonwealth continue to feel the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “Opioid manufacturers and their executive leadership must be held accountable for taking advantage of this country’s opioid crisis and putting profits over people. I want to thank my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their terrific work on this case as well as our local, state, and federal partners for their continued partnership on these cases.”

“Misrepresentations made about the drug, while Thaxter ran the company, misled MassHealth about the potential risk of accidental opioid exposure. It is inexcusable to willfully disregard requirements that treatment medications be prescribed carefully in order to protect patient health and safety,” said Elton Malone, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue investigating and bringing to justice those placing profits over patients in government healthcare programs.”

“Opioid addiction is a significant public health crisis and addressing opioid abuse continues to be one of FDA’s top priorities. Misleading information about relative product benefits undermines efforts to provide affordable treatment to those suffering from opioid addiction,” said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those whose schemes jeopardize public health and put Americans at risk.”

“The U.S. Postal Service spends billions of dollars per year in workers compensation and health care-related costs, most of which are legitimate,” said Kenneth Cleevely, Special Agent in Charge of the Eastern Field Office for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. “However, when medical providers or companies choose to flout the rules and profit illegally, special agents with the USPS OIG will work with our law enforcement partners to hold them responsible. To report fraud or other criminal activity involving the Postal Service, contact USPS OIG special agents at www.uspsoig.gov or 888-USPS-OIG.”’

According to court documents, Thaxter had authority over Indivior’s marketing and sales of Suboxone Film which, along with other Suboxone products, generated nearly all the company’s revenue. In 2012, Thaxter oversaw and encouraged Indivior’s efforts to secure formulary coverage for Suboxone Film from the Massachusetts Medicaid agency called MassHealth. Thaxter asked Indivior employees under his direction to devise a strategy to win preferred drug status for Suboxone Film and counteract a non-opioid competitor MassHealth was considering for opioid-addiction treatment. Certain Indivior employees subsequently shared false and misleading safety information with MassHealth officials about Suboxone Film’s risk of accidental pediatric exposure. Two months after receiving that false and misleading information, MassHealth announced it would provide access to Suboxone Film for Medicaid patients with children under the age of six.

The criminal cases against Thaxter, Indivior, and Baxter are being prosecuted by attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, including Albert P. Mayer, Randy Ramseyer, Kristin L. Gray, Joseph S. Hall, Janine M. Myatt, Garth W. Huston, Carol Wallack, Charles J. Biro, and Matthew J. Lash. The criminal investigation of Thaxter was handled by the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations; United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General.

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Texas man sentenced on cyberstalking, making interstate threats

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Editor’s note: this case relates to the spring of 2018 death of Apple Mountain 16-year-old Sarah Rose Genari, which was ruled a suicide. As previously reported, O’Dell had bragged online of being responsible for the girl’s death and then began threatening her family members under assumed social media aliases. Related Article


HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – Adrian Raul O’Dell, an Odessa, Texas man, who had an online relationship with a juvenile female in the Western District of Virginia and later cyberstalked and made online threats to the girl’s family following her suicide, was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement today.

O’Dell, 20, was charged in October of 2019 and arrested the following month at his home in Texas. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of cyberstalking and one count of making interstate threats.

“In today’s increasingly virtual world, where we live, work and learn online, this sentence demonstrates that if anyone uses these platforms to cyberstalk, harass and threaten others, we will hold them accountable,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar said today. “The FBI and Warren County Sheriff’s Office did an outstanding job in finding Mr. O’Dell and bringing him to justice in Virginia for his abhorrent actions. My office sends its deepest condolences to the family in this case, who lost a loved one, and hope they find some solace knowing justice was served.”

“The FBI is fully committed to investigating all forms of child exploitation, cyberstalking and online threats.  We will pursue those responsible and bring them to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge David W. Archey.  “Our hearts and thoughts are with the family through these difficult times.”

According to court documents, between September 2017 and around March 2018, O’Dell had an online relationship with a 16-year-old girl who lived in Linden, Virginia. In May 2018, following an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that the girl died by suicide in a wooded area near her home.

From June 2018 through June 2019, O’Dell, using a variety of false email and online personas, took credit for her suicide.  The defendant then sent threatening and intimidating messages to her family members and friends that placed them in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily harm. In addition, these messages attempted to cause friends and family members substantial emotional distress.  The defendant sent certain of these messages in violation of a protective order.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Warren County Sherriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Kate Rumsey is prosecuting the case for the United States.

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Upcoming Events

Oct
19
Mon
all-day WCHS Band Annual Fruit Sale @ ONLINE STORE
WCHS Band Annual Fruit Sale @ ONLINE STORE
Oct 19 – Nov 12 all-day
WCHS Band Annual Fruit Sale @ ONLINE STORE
Please show your support by purchasing fresh fruit for you, your family and friends to enjoy over the holidays! To place your order online, simply click here. Navel, Grapefruit, Juice Oranges — Whole Box $40, Half[...]
Oct
31
Sat
10:00 am Halloween on Main Street @ White Picket Fence
Halloween on Main Street @ White Picket Fence
Oct 31 @ 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Halloween on Main Street @ White Picket Fence
10-11 am: Dog Costume Parade and judging 1-2 pm: Wedding on the Gazebo 4 pm: Children’s Costume Parade with judging and prizes 5 pm: Trick or Treat on Main Street. Merchants and County Businesses will[...]
10:00 am Skyline Middle School Food Drive @ C&C Frozen Treats
Skyline Middle School Food Drive @ C&C Frozen Treats
Oct 31 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Skyline Middle School Food Drive @ C&C Frozen Treats
Skyline Middle School kicks off its 38th Annual Food Drive Saturday, October 31, 10 am-3 pm, at C&C Frozen Treats. Please bring nonperishable food.
5:00 pm Halloween Glow Throw @ Shenandoah Valley Axe Throwing Co
Halloween Glow Throw @ Shenandoah Valley Axe Throwing Co
Oct 31 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Halloween Glow Throw @ Shenandoah Valley Axe Throwing Co
Bring your best costumes and GLOW throw with us! Trick or treat, throw axes and have an amazing Halloween with SVAXETHROWINGCO! KID friendly! Make your reservation today, spots will fill up fast: www.svaxethrowingco.com Fill out[...]
Nov
1
Sun
all-day 2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Gr... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Gr... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Nov 1 all-day
2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Grant Application @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Beginning on November 1, 2020, to accept Applications for 2021 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a[...]
Nov
4
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6:00 pm Annual Meeting of St. Luke Commu... @ Online Event
Annual Meeting of St. Luke Commu... @ Online Event
Nov 4 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Annual Meeting of St. Luke Community Clinic @ Online Event
St. Luke Community Clinic, Inc., of Front Royal, will hold its Annual Meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, by ZOOM. All members (those who donate $35 annually or volunteer at the clinic) are[...]
Nov
5
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6:00 pm Fashion Show Fundraiser benefitt... @ West Oaks Farm Market Event Venue
Fashion Show Fundraiser benefitt... @ West Oaks Farm Market Event Venue
Nov 5 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Fashion Show Fundraiser benefitting Boy Scouts @ West Oaks Farm Market Event Venue
Fashion Show Fundraiser benefitting Shenandoah Area Council Boy Scouts Fashion, food, cash bar, silent auction, raffle, door prizes, vendors on-site. Sponsored by Anna Quinn Jewelers, Grove’s Winchester Harley Davidson and Firenza Pizza. Showcasing clothing by[...]
Nov
7
Sat
all-day Small Business Saturday @ Front Royal, Virginia
Small Business Saturday @ Front Royal, Virginia
Nov 7 all-day
Small Business Saturday @ Front Royal, Virginia
Why should Small Business Saturday just be celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving? Buy Local – Shop Local – Eat Local – Support Front Royal’s Small Business Community and stay local! Small Business Saturdays –[...]
10:00 am Felt Pine Tree Class @ Downtown Market
Felt Pine Tree Class @ Downtown Market
Nov 7 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Felt Pine Tree Class @ Downtown Market
You’ve seen these popular felt trees in stores – learn how to make your own and personalize your home décor this holiday season! No craft or sewing experience needed. All supplies will provided in class[...]
12:00 pm Downtown Market Art Walk @ Downtown Market
Downtown Market Art Walk @ Downtown Market
Nov 7 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Downtown Market Art Walk @ Downtown Market
Come join us Saturday for ART! We are working with local artists & artisans to bring art to our Main Street. We will have artists set up along Main Street creating, painting, and making! This[...]