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UPDATED: Former Marion Police Chief pleads guilty to drug charge

By WDBJ7 Web Staff
Published On: Jun 19 2013 07:59:55 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 15 2013 04:30:00 PM EDT
UPDATED: Marion Police Chief, "Fireball," fired after being arrested on drug charges
MARION, Va. -

A former police chief in southwestern Virginia has pleaded guilty to dealing methamphetamines, cocaine and other drugs.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy says 54-year-old former Chief Michael Dean Roberts — also known as "Fireball" — pleaded guilty in federal court in Abingdon Monday to a one-count information charging him with distributing drugs, also including prescription painkillers. An information signals that Roberts is cooperating with authorities in their investigation.

Authorities say Roberts sold thousands of pills and other drugs from 2006 through June. A confidential informant bought hydrocodone pills from the police chief on three separate occasions in May and June.

Some of the drugs came from the department's evidence room.

Roberts faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he's sentenced Oct. 9.

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Original story from June 19

Town leaders in Marion, Virginia have asked Michael Roberts to step down after being arrested on drug charges.

Here is the official statement from the mayor:

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM MAYOR DAVID P. HELMS, THE TOWN OF MARION, VA

“Michael D. Roberts was hired by the Town of Marion as a patrolman in July 1986, and he was promoted to Chief of Police on July 01, 2000.  As a result of today’s investigation and arraignment, the Marion Town Council met in executive session this evening and subsequently voted unanimously to instruct Town Manager Bill Rush to write a letter to Michael D. Roberts informing him that his services were no longer required by the Town of Marion effective June 19, 2013.

Lieutenant Rex Anders will be serving in operational command of the Marion Police Department until further notice.

The Town of Marion continues to work with all agencies in full cooperation during this investigation.”

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Following a hearing in federal court Wednesday afternoon, Michael Dean Roberts was ordered released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

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The Police Chief of the Marion Police Department was arrested this morning on drug distribution charges.

Michael Dean Roberts, or "Fireball", of Saltville, was arrested Wednesday morning via a criminal complaint, according to a press release. He is charged with one count of distribution of a controlled substance.

Roberts is charged with distributing the prescription pain killer Lortab, which contained the schedule III narcotic hydrocodone, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon.

According to the criminal complaint, Roberts not only gave pills to an informant, but was recorded on video crushing one up and snorting it. The complete criminal complaint can be viewed here.

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Virginia State Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Lee will prosecute the case for the United States.

Online court records show Roberts is scheduled for a hearing in federal court in Abingdon at 2:00 p.m.