Two Shenandoah County residents were sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a Tuesday news release.
James Harold Lichliter, 52, of Maurertown, was sentenced to 144 months in federal prison. In a separate hearing, Johnathan Dale Neice, 42, of Woodstock, was sentenced to 132 months incarceration.
Both men were charged as part of a heroin trafficking conspiracy that brought heroin from Maryland into Shenandoah County and caused one fatal and one non-fatal overdose.
Craig Allen Kidwell and Norma Lynda Kidwell, both of Mount Jackson, and Stacey Allen Marston, of Woodstock, were also indicted in the case, the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg reported in May 2019.
All three are awaiting sentencing, the news release states.
Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and Jesse Fong, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Washington Field Office, made the announcement on Tuesday.
“Both Lichliter and Neice previously pleaded guilty to one count of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute resulting in the death of J.H. and the serious bodily injury of J.W.,” the release states, not identifying the overdose victims.
As a direct result of the defendants' drug distribution activities, two overdoses occurred, one of which resulted in the death of victim J.H., the release states.
"The scourge of heroin is a deadly killer that does not discriminate,” Bubar states in the release.
“We will use all available resources and continue to closely partner with federal, state and local law enforcement to hold drug dealers like Lichliter and Neice, who seek to profit from this treacherous epidemic, responsible for their actions."
According to court documents, starting around June 2017 a Maryland-based drug-trafficking network started selling controlled substances to Virginia-based drug traffickers, who, in turn, transported those drugs to Shenandoah County for redistribution, the release states.
Craig and Norma Kidwell repeatedly traveled to Maryland to obtain heroin from the organization, the release states. At times, the heroin that Craig Kidwell and Norma Kidwell obtained from their source was mixed with other drugs, such as fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl, it states.
“After obtaining heroin, Craig Kidwell and Norma Kidwell transported the drugs back to Shenandoah County where the drugs were redistributed to others, including, but not limited to, co-defendants Lichliter, Marston, and Neice, who redistributed the drugs to others around Shenandoah County,” the release states.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia State Police, Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office and Woodstock Police Department with the assistance of the Shenandoah County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. The release states Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeb Terrien is prosecuting the case.