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Press Release

Bristol, Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
John Lapis Maintained a Drug House that was the Site of at Least Two Shootings

Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Bristol man who maintained a residence used for drug distribution and was the sight of at least two acts of violence, pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Abingdon to related federal charges, United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced.


John James Lapis, 39, waived his right to be indicted last week and pleaded guilty on Friday, January 5, 2018 to a one-count Information charging him with maintaining a place for the distribution of controlled substances. At sentencing, scheduled for April 9, 2018, at 2:30 p.m., Lapis faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $500,000.


Lapis admitted to being a drug user who maintained a residence on Safari Drive in Bristol, Virginia for the purpose of allowing others to buy and sell controlled substances. In exchange for use of the residence, Lapis received drugs for his own use.


According to information presented at the guilty plea hearing by Assistant United Attorney Randy Ramseyer, between January 2016 and June 2017, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded to over 50 complaints at the residence, including over 100 calls/texts concerning activity at the residence. These calls and texts included complaints of heavy traffic in and out of the residence.  In response, law enforcement conducted traffic stops of vehicles leaving the Safari Drive residence. During some of these stops, narcotics were found. During one attempted traffic stop, a driver did not follow the officers’ directions and a police chase took place. After apprehending the driver, officers found a large amount of methamphetamine and a firearm in the vehicle.  In June 2017, a search warrant was executed at the residence, and a small amount of methamphetamine was found.


In October 2016, a drug trafficker was shot and killed at the residence. Through numerous interviews by law enforcement, it was determined that the victim was killed, at least in part, due to a drug debt. In February 2017, another shooting took place at the residence, over a drug debt.


The investigation of the case was conducted by the Town of Abingdon Police Department, Bristol Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated January 8, 2018

Drug Trafficking