Two convicted, sentenced as drug-buying plans go awry

By Joe Beck

Two Front Royal men were indicted, convicted and sentenced Monday in Warren County Circuit Court in connection with an attempt to obtain drugs illegally that went wrong.

The defendants, Paul Michael Sullivan, 32, of 514 Manassas Ave., and Shane Moran Tunnell, 43, of 141 W. 15th St., started out together Feb. 26 on a mission to buy drugs.

“Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Tunnell began the evening seeking drugs,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton told Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp.

By the time police arrested both men hours later, Sullivan was accused of burglarizing the home of Lisa Rowe, of 347 Kendrick Lane, and taking a purse containing two bottles of drugs and $1,290 in cash and currency. Authorities said Tunnell had helped Sullivan earlier in the evening in a failed burglary attempt at the Front Royal Family Pharmacy at 303 W. 10th St.

Layton said both men initially approached a drug dealer, but the transaction soon “had gone south.”

The defendants then went to the pharmacy where Sullivan tried unsuccessfully to kick in the door. A criminal complaint states Sullivan wanted to take dilaudid from the pharmacy and was caught on videotape trying to enter the building.

The complaint states that police later that night found and questioned Tunnell, who told them Sullivan wanted to burglarize the pharmacy “because he indicated he had done it before, and it would take a short amount of time.”

After leaving the pharmacy, Sullivan turned his attention to Rowe’s residence, according to authorities.

Layton said Sullivan entered through a bedroom window.

“At that point, Ms. Rowe yells at him to get out,” Layton said, adding that the defendant took the purse with the cash and drugs before leaving. Layton said Tunnell had earlier “disassociated” himself from Sullivan’s plans to burglarize Rowe’s residence.

Layton said afterward that Sullivan had sought out Rowe because the defendant had identified her as the source of the drugs he tried to buy earlier in the day before the attempted break-in at the pharmacy.

The criminal complaint states that police responding to Rowe’s residence after she called 911 saw a man carrying a purse as he walked toward a vehicle. They ordered him to the ground and took him into custody “after a brief struggle,” according to the complaint.

Layton told Hupp that Rowe was “not the most sympathetic victim because she had been selling prescription drugs earlier.”

Layton added that $800 of the cash recovered from her purse had been obtained “from drug proceeds.”

Sullivan was sentenced to a total of six years prison on three counts, all but six months of which were suspended. He also received three years probation.

Hupp sentenced Tunnell to two years probation on a single charge of burglary and suspended a two-year prison sentence.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com