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Press Release

Huntington man pleads guilty for role in pain pill conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man pled guilty today to a federal drug crime, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Joseph W. Melbar, 54, entered his guilty plea to aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. U.S. Attorney Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the West Virginia State Police.

“Getting pain pills off the streets of Huntington and holding drug criminals accountable is a top priority for me and my office,” said U.S. Attorney Stuart. “We are going to continue working with law enforcement to make sure that those who prey on the citizens of Huntington face serious hard time behind bars.”

Melbar admitted that on September 15, 2017, he arranged a drug deal for oxycodone pills with a confidential informant working with the DEA. The drug deal was scheduled to take place at Melbar’s residence on Collis Avenue in Huntington, where the informant met with Melbar, codefendant Curtis Holcomb, and another codefendant, to complete the transaction. After discussing the terms of the deal – 500 oxycodone pills in exchange for $20,000 cash, the codefendants left Melbar’s residence to acquire the pills. After Melbar’s codefendants picked up the pills, a trooper with the West Virginia State Police conducted a traffic stop on their vehicle on Artisan Avenue in Huntington. During the stop, the trooper seized 454 thirty mg oxycodone pills that Holcomb had concealed in his sock.     

Melbar faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on May 29, 2018. Holcomb previously pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on May 7, 2018.

Assistant United States Attorney Joseph F. Adams is responsible for the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers.

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District. 

Updated February 28, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs