CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Bill Powell recognized 11 members of the law enforcement community in Clarksburg this week.
U.S. Attorney Bill Powell recognized WV State Police Cpl. John W. Smith, FBI Special Agent Fred Aldridge, FBI Special Agent Matt Eagles, DEA Diversion Investigator Guy McCartney, DEA Diversion Investigator Chris Skaggs, WV State Police Sgt. Rob Talkington, Bridgeport Police Lt. Gary Weaver, WV State Police Task Force Commander Josh Tallman, FBI Special Agent Peter Olinits, FBI Special Agent Jared Jankowski, FBI Special Agent Justin Van Tromp, and IRS Special Agent Tami Devericks for their exemplary work.
“Honoring those who go above and beyond to protect our children, our community and our national security is a great privilege. While this year has created exceptional challenges, they continue their great work to keep our communities safer. Those honored today never seek recognition, but it is important to let the public know about the accomplishments of our law enforcement members. I thank each and every one of them for their continued service,” said Powell.
West Virginia State Police Cpl. J.W. Smith and FBI Special Agent Aldridge conducted a two-year investigation resulting in the successful prosecution of former Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Rock for distributing drugs to his confidential informants in 2016. Rock was sentenced to more than 58 months in prison. For the successful outcome of this case and their important roles in the investigation, the Outstanding Investigative Effort Award was given to Cpl. J.W. Smith and Special Agent Fred Aldridge.
FBI Special Agent Matt Eagles, DEA Diversion Investigator Guy McCartney, DEA Diversion Investigator Chris Skaggs investigated several physicians in a prescription drug case. The Dr. Felix Brizuela investigation began in January 2015 and soon included healthcare fraud. The FBI joined the investigation and it expended to several other suspects. For the next four years, McCartney and Eagles collected and reviewed over 600,000 documents. The agents executed search warrants on five physical locations and three email accounts. They also interviewed over one hundred witnesses. Both received the Outstanding Investigative Effort Award.
West Virginia State Police Sgt. Rob Talkington was recognized for his work in the Tara Ponceroff and Ian Toothman child pornography cases. Talkington determined there were child pornographic images on Toothman’s phone, and that Ponceroff was the depicted female in the pictures. Both defendants pled guilty, Toothman is serving 278 months and Ponceroff is serving 360 months. Sgt. Talkington was also recognized for sucessfully prosecuting James Smith for sexual misconduct with various teenaged boys. Smith pled guilty and was sentenced to 168 months in prison. Sgt. Rob Talkington was honored with the Outstanding Investigative Effort Award.
Lt. Gary Weaver with the Bridgeport Police Department was recognized for his work in child pornography cases against Jeremy Smith, Jack Rice, and Quionte Crawford. Rice was sentenced to 57 months in prison. Jeremy Smith pled guilty to a child pornography charge and was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Crawford was sentenced to life in prison for using baseball games and tournaments to initiate contact with youg boys. Lt. Weaver received the Outstanding Investigative Effort Award.
On Monday, August 5, 2019, Task Force Commander J. M. Tallman, as well as other troopers, responded to Pocahontas County to assist in the search of an armed subject. The suspect had fired upon the Pocahontas County Sheriff and one of his deputies after a single vehicle crash and fled into a heavily wooded area. Tallman and another trooper went with a Huttonsville Prison K-9 unit in an attempt to track and locate the suspect. Tallman heard movement in the brush and observed the suspect appear from behind some trees with a rifle. Tallman instructed the suspect to put the gun down. An exchange of gunfire ensued, and the suspect charged toward Tallman. Tallman was struck in the abdomen with a high-powered rifle. The round had struck Tallman’s cap stun and duty belt buckle before traveling through the lower part of his Kevlar vest and into his abdomen. The suspect continued charging at Tallman at which time a physical altercation ensued. Tallman fired several shots from his duty weapon that malfunctioned as the suspect was attempting to disarm him. Tallman then used his issued AR-15 and fired a single round, fatally wounding the suspect. Tallman was treated on scene by Troopers and flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital. Tallman has since recovered from his injuries and continues his work. Tallman received the Heroic Effort Award.
FBI Special Agent Peter Olinits, IRS Special Agent Tami Devericks, FBI Special Agent Jared Jankowski, and FBI Special Agent Justin Van Tromp worked tirelessly on two cases involving Chinese nationals.
Dr. Qingyun Sun, a Chinese national, was employed by West Virginia University as a professor since 2001 and contracted to the West Virginia Development Office, within the West Virginia Department of Commerce, to act as the governor’s assistant for China affairs since 2008. Dr. James Patrick Lewis, an American citizen, was employed by WVU as a physics professor since 2006. The investigations involved countless hours of investigative work and hundreds of documents. Dr. Sun pled guilty to wire fraud and tax fraud in July 2020 and is awaiting sentencing in December 2020. Dr. Lewis pled guilty to federal program fraud in March 2020 and was sentenced to three months of incarceration and fined $9,363 for the costs of the incarceration and was ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution to WVU. FBI Special Agent Peter Olinits, IRS Special Agent Tami Devericks, FBI Special Agent Jared Jankowski, and FBI Special Agent Justin Van Tromp were given Outstanding Investigative Effort Awards.