Front Royal man found guilty of heroin possession with intent to distribute

Nathan Cole Robinson

FRONT ROYAL — A local man was found guilty after a bench trial Monday of heroin possession with intent to distribute.

A confidential informant asked Nathan Cole Robinson, 34, to drive to Baltimore and purchase heroin for her, the informant testified during Monday’s trial. The informant told law enforcement with the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force about the plan she set up with Robinson on Oct. 5, 2016, and law enforcement equipped her vehicle with a GPS tracking device and gave her $350 in Virginia State Police funds.

Robinson’s license had been suspended prior to the arrangement, and he did not have his own transportation, so the plan was to use the informant’s truck for the trip to Baltimore, the informant testified. He arrived at the informant’s Linden home on Oct. 6, 2016 by taxi, which was paid for out of the $350 given to the informant to give to Robinson. Robinson stopped at a gas station in Linden before heading to Baltimore on Interstate 66, law enforcement officials testified at the trial. They had been conducting surveillance on Robinson up to when he went on I-66, and monitored his movements on the GPS tracker placed on the informant’s truck when he entered the interstate.

On his way back from Baltimore, deputies with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop around the Linden exit on I-66,  law enforcement officials testified on Monday. Investigators arrived at the scene and found the purchased heroin in a “body cavity” of Robinson’s, which amounted to about five grams in individual packs, as the informant requested. Robinson was later charged with heroin possession with intent to distribute and driving on a suspended license.

Robinson’s attorney, Matt Beyrau, argued that this case was a “particularly egregious” example of entrapment. Beyrau argued that law enforcement helped supply Robinson with a vehicle even though they knew Robinson’s license was suspended. Beyrau also argued that the confidential informant — who was working with law enforcement because they could have potentially charged her with conspiracy to distribute heroin from a prior unrelated incident — had pressured Robinson to participate in the crime by repeatedly asking him to drive to Baltimore even though he had gotten clean, which Robinson testified to during Monday’s trial.

“I guess it was being sick and going through it…I finally caved in,” Robinson said of the offense.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Fleming argued that the confidential informant testified to driving to Baltimore with the defendant before the incident that led to Robinson’s arrest, and the was not innocent because of his willing participation. Fleming also argued that Robinson admitted to committing the crime during his testimony on Monday.

Circuit Judge Ronald L. Napier found Robinson guilty of heroin possession with intent to distribute and driving on a suspended license. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing hearing has been set for Feb. 21 in Warren County Circuit Court. Robinson was taken into custody after Monday’s trial.