Meth maker sentenced

WOODSTOCK – A Mount Jackson man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to 10 of 12 counts stemming from the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Authorities accused Joseph Malechi Michael, 37, of 13170 Old Valley Pike, Edinburg, of making methamphetamine with a co-defendant at a residence that included a child under 15 years old. The charges against Michael included child abuse and manufacturing methamphetamine with a child less than 15 years old present.

Michael’s sentence also included three years supervised probation.

Two of the counts against Michael – both for manufacturing of methamphetamine – were filed in connection with offenses committed after the initial charges in the case.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola said members of the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force followed Michael to a drug store after he made a court appearance on the initial charges. At the store, Michael purchased an ingredient used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, Campola said. The task force members later executed a search warrant at the residence where they came upon Michael in the middle of producing a batch of methamphetamine, Campola said.

Campola praised the task force members for their initiative that led to Michael’s arrest on the second set of charges in March.

“Members of the task force had a great idea,” Campola said. “They knew he was going to make methamphetamine after his court date in March, and it panned out.”

A co-defendant in the case, Barbara Ann Gochenour of Woodstock, was sentenced to five years in prison on Oct. 7.

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