Harrison Sheriff process server jailed on drug charge, placed on unpaid leave

Harrison Sheriff process server jailed on drug charge, placed on unpaid leave

Posted Monday, 31 March 2014

This article originally appeared on The Exponent Telegram. View the original post here.

CLARKSBURG — A Harrison Sheriff’s Department process server accused of selling pain pills while in uniform, and his alleged supplier, have been arrested by the Greater Harrison Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.

Process Server Jason Marple, 35, and the other defendant, Casey Searcy, 33, are charged in a federal criminal complaint with aiding and abetting distribution of oxycodone.

The commander of the Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration special agents and State Police arrested Marple on Monday morning at the Harrison County Courthouse. The DEA and Drug Task Force agents raided Marple’s location in the process server’s office of the Sheriff’s Department, and also seized and had towed away the brown Ford Explorer Cruiser that is Marple’s work vehicle.

During an undercover sting March 11 that also involved cooperation from the Three Rivers Drug Task Force, Marple obtained pills from Searcy and distributed them, a Greater Harrison Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force sergeant has alleged.

During the operation, Marple met with an undercover operative in the Kmart parking lot, the Drug Task Force sergeant has alleged.

The undercover operative told Marple he was concerned “about Marple driving a Sheriff’s Department cruiser and wearing a uniform,” the Drug Task Force sergeant has alleged.

“Marple advised (the undercover operative), ‘Don’t panic. I’m just a mail man with a gun,’” the Drug Task Force sergeant has alleged.

The pills, tentatively identified as 30 mg oxycodones, were sold for $240, the complaint alleges. They have been sent to the State Police Crime Lab for further identification, the complaint alleges.

At least two audio/video recording devices were used, the Drug Task Force sergeant has alleged.

Later Monday, U.S. Magistrate John S. Kaull ordered Marple and Searcy jailed pending detention hearings on Thursday.

Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Morgan has asked the court to keep both men incarcerated pending prosecution.

In Marple’s case, Morgan alleges the case is eligible for detention because it’s an alleged crime of violence; the maximum sentence could be life in prison; and it’s a drug offense that could carry a penalty of more than 10 years if there’s a conviction.

Morgan also alleges there is a serious risk of obstruction of justice.

Penalties against Marple could increase if he’s convicted and found to have had his service weapon on him at the time of the crime, and to have abused a position of trust.

Morgan alleges Searcy is eligible for detention because it’s a drug offense that could carry 10 or more years in prison if there’s a conviction, and that there’s a serious risk of obstruction of justice. Morgan also alleged community safety as a concern.

Searcy and Marple also are to have preliminary hearings before Kaull on Thursday.

Harrison Sheriff Albert Marano said Marple has been placed on unpaid leave for the time being. If the charge results in a conviction, Marple will be fired, the sheriff said. The sheriff also might take action prior to that, but that would depend on what he learns after meeting with personnel experts.

Marano said his department was “made aware of it” Monday morning.

“We’re cooperating and assisting any way we can with the federal authorities,” Marano said.