Smyth County

UPDATE: Marion, Va. police chief charged with drug distribution

Marion police chief charged with drug distribution

MARION, Va. - News 5 has learned Marion Police Chief Michael Dean Roberts has been released from his position.

According to Marion Mayor David Helms, Roberts was hired in 1986 and promoted to chief in 2000.

Helms tells us the Marion Town Council met in executive session Wednesday evening and voted unanimously to release Roberts as police chief, effective June 19, 2013.

News 5 learned Lieutenant Rex Anders will fulfill his duties until further notice.

Helms says the Town of Marion is cooperating with the investigation.

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A man whose job is to serve and protect faces a federal drug charge. Marion, Virginia's police chief, Michael Dean Roberts, has been charged with one count of distribution of a controlled substance.

The reaction of many people in Marion after learning Roberts was arrested Wednesday morning is shock. "I'm very disappointed because we pay taxes here and they're supposed to protect and serve the county and not perform in drug activity," adds Marion resident Sonia Snavely.

Court records show Roberts was arrested after a break in the case on June 8th. A person authorities call a "cooperating defendant" took an audio and video recording device when Roberts met them at his/her home.

In court Wednesday afternoon, that video was played. It showed Roberts giving the informant two pills, then crush a pill and snort it himself. That was one of several recorded transactions.

A search warrant was issue for Roberts' home, car, and even his office in the Marion Police Department. The informant told police Roberts would get some of the pills from the Marion Police Department and would even return to work after using illegal drugs.

"They're trying to catch people that do drugs and they're doing it? It's not right. It's not right at all," says Snavely.

Now some residents tell News 5 it'll be hard for them to trust the police.

"It's a police officer getting busted for drugs? We don't need that in this community we've got enough going on," says Marion resident Adam Pennington.

Roberts was in federal court Wednesday afternoon in Abingdon. He was released to his parents on at $10,000 bond. Roberts must stay at his parent's house and will be under house arrest until his court date. He must also submit to treatment and evaluation for substance abuse within the next 30-days.

Previous Story:

A local police chief is on the wrong side of the law after being accused of distributing a controlled substance.

The US Attorney's Office announced this morning that Marion, Virginia police chief Michael Dean Roberts, also known as 'Fireball', was arrested Wednesday morning.

According to the affidavit, Roberts is charged with distributing the name brand prescription painkiller Lortab.

The investigation was handled by several federal, state, and local agencies.

We contacted the Town of Marion spokesman, who said town officials do not have a comment at this time and referred all questions to the Virginia State Police.

Roberts is due in federal court in Abingdon Wednesday afternoon.

We have a crew in Marion and will have more information later today on News 5 WCYB.

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