Drug dealer gets more than two years in prison

By Joe Beck

FRONT ROYAL — A heroin addict who tried unsuccessfully to obtain a drug to help him cope with his withdrawal symptoms while in jail was sentenced Tuesday in Warren County Circuit Court to two years and three months in prison.

The sentence imposed on Brian Thomas Martin, 28, was a result of earlier pleas to eight counts of drug-related offenses, the majority of them involving heroin.

Martin’s crimes included a plot to smuggle the prescription drug Suboxone to him while he was in jail on other drug offenses. Martin and two family members who testified on his behalf at Monday’s hearing said he was addicted at the time he was jailed.

Medical professionals can legally prescribe Suboxone to treat patients dependent on heroin and other opioid drugs.

Martin’s case included a plot to obtain the drug illicitly with the help of his mother and a teen-ager. Authorities said Martin’s mother and the juvenile discussed the scheme over a telephone during jailhouse calls with him.

The plan called for the juvenile to leave a strip of Suboxone for Martin to pick up in the hallway of the Warren County Clerk of General District Court during a break in courtroom proceedings.

Martin never got the opportunity to enter the hallway, and the plan failed. A video camera recorded the juvenile returning to the hallway to pick up the Suboxone, according to authorities.

Defense attorney John Bell asked Hupp to limit Martin’s sentence to the lower end of the state’s sentencing guidelines, which would mean about 10 months in jail.

“Mr. Martin wants to start picking up the responsibilities he abandoned while he was selling drugs,” Bell said.

Shaun and Jessica Martin, the defendant’s brother and sister, testified that Brian Martin’s latest stint in jail, one in a series, had made him a mature, responsible person newly committed to caring for his daughter now living in Tennessee.

“Now he listens when we try to tell him things,” Jessica Martin said of her brother. “Beforehand, you could not talk to him about anything.”

Brian Martin testified that the time he has spent in jail may have saved his life.

“I’m kind of glad because I believe I could have been the next person to overdose and die,” Martin told Hupp.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Fleming rejected Bell’s argument that Martin deserved a lighter sentence because he was not motivated by greed when he sold heroin to others. Bell described Martin’s actions as those of an addict seeking only enough money for his next fix.

“Sometimes people are selling drugs to support their habit,” Fleming said. “That may very well be the case here. But they’re still selling drugs.”

Martin’s sentence also includes three years supervised probation and two years unsupervised, plus 24 years in prison that were suspended. Hupp also agreed to Bell’s request that the sentence include an opportunity to participate in a work release program.

Bell said he had hoped his client could participate in an inmate diversion program, but the imminent closing of the White Post Diversion Center and a long delay for entry into a similar program in Harrisonburg caused him to drop the effort.

Martin’s mother, Charlene Maria Jordan, has pleaded guilty to three charges connected to the plot to slip Suboxone to her son. She has already agreed to serve 12 months in jail. She could also be sentenced to additional prison time for violating the terms of her probation from earlier convictions.

Jordan’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 2.

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