Strasburg couple faces pot charges

Pair charges with 40 offense each for marijuana distribution, child cruelty

By Joe Beck

A Shenandoah County grand jury has indicted a Strasburg couple on a total of 80 charges linked to what authorities believe was a marijuana distribution operation at their residence of 85 Ellen Drive.

Joseph and Jessie Butler are charged with 40 offenses each, some pertaining to marijuana distribution and others to cruelty to children.

Strasburg Police Chief Timothy Sutherly said the children referred to in the charges are the Butler’s own immediate family.

“They were selling around the home they had here,” Sutherly said of Joseph and Jessie Butler.

The Butlers’ offenses were committed in 2010, according to court records.

The unusual length of time that elapsed between the offenses and their indictments can be traced to an investigation, Sutherly said.

“It was a lengthy investigation that didn’t stop with this couple,” Sutherly said. “They’re little pieces of a big puzzle.”

Sutherly refused to elaborate on the investigation.

The Butlers are scheduled to appear in Shenandoah County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. on Nov. 12.

Authorities sometimes file cruelty to children charges against accused drug dealers if law enforcement officials believe they have evidence that children were being harmed by their parents’ alleged involvement in the drug trade.

Distribution of marijuana in amounts from a half-ounce to 5 pounds is a class five felony punishable by imprisonment of no less than one year or more than 10 years in Virginia.

Cruelty to children is a class six felony carrying a prison term of no less than one year or more than five years, according to state law.

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