Heroin defendant sentenced to five years in prison

By Joe Beck

FRONT ROYAL — A man who took up selling heroin after moving to Front Royal from Delaware several years ago was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday in Warren County Circuit Court.

Rickie Hall’s sentencing came after he pleaded no contest in March to possession of heroin with intent to deliver.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Fleming told Judge Dennis L. Hupp that Hall’s offense was an example of the soaring heroin trafficking in the region.

Fleming called Front Royal police Detective Jason Lethcoe of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force to testify about figures showing that 22 people in the task force’s five-county jurisdiction have died this year from heroin overdoses.

Lethcoe testified that law enforcement officials found 35 packets of heroin in the motel room where Hall had been living at the time of his arrest in September 2013. Lethcoe said police recovered a cell phone with graphic images showing Hall having sex with several women. Lethcoe said law enforcement officials determined that Hall provided the women with heroin in exchange for sex.

Lethcoe said Hall obtained the heroin on several trips to Delaware.

Fleming recited the dates of seven overdose deaths in Warren County this year.

“Thirty five packs of heroin is 35 chances that someone will overdose,” Fleming said, adding, “We’ve had too many overdoses in this area, your honor.”

Hall testified he came to Front Royal after the demise of his 21-year marriage. He initially stayed with his son, who has since moved away.

“I was going through a mid-life crisis, a period of depression,” Hall said.

Hall said he accepted responsibility for his actions, calling heroin trafficking “horrific” and “terrible.”

Hall said he was not involved in any of the heroin overdose deaths cited by Fleming.

“Thank God I don’t have any deaths linked to me,” Hall said. “It could have been a lot worse. I’m aware of that.”

Hupp said Hall was “a defendant who comes with a lot of baggage,” a reference to his brushes with the law and penal system in Delaware.

“It’s clear that heroin is a dangerous drug,” Hupp said in sentencing Hall. “It’s become a scourge in our community.”

Hall’s sentence included five years probation, three of them supervised. Hall’s total prison sentence was 10 years, five of which were suspended.

In another heroin related case, Alandis Leon Roberts, 19, pleaded guilty to four counts of selling heroin in Front Royal in late August and early September of 2013.

Hupp scheduled a sentencing hearing for 9 a.m. on Oct. 28.

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