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Press Release

United States Attorney’s Office Seeks to Forfeit Homes Connected to Murder of Police Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Pair of Homes Were Hubs for Narcotics Trafficking and Violence

Big Stone Gap, Va. – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia has filed a civil complaint to forfeit a pair of Big Stone Gap homes connected to the November 2021 murder of Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler.

In a complaint for forfeiture unsealed last week in U.S. District Court, the United States Attorney’s Office brought a civil action against both 2505 Orr Street and 2512 Orr Street in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, asking the court to forfeit the properties to the custody of the United States on the grounds that they were used to commit or facilitate criminal activities.  Upon filing of the action, United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh made the following statement:

"On November 13, 2021, Officer Michael Chandler was responding to provide a welfare check on one of these homes at approximately 4:00 AM, where he was shot and killed.  Our criminal investigation into Officer Chandler’s death resulted in federal charges against Michael White for the murder, as well as federal narcotics charges against White and 18 co-conspirators.

Our investigation also revealed that these two homes were hubs for a narcotics conspiracy that funneled narcotics to Southwest Virginia, and the owners knew about it and allowed it to proceed.  In just the 15-month period prior to White’s death, there were approximately 78 calls for service for local police to respond to these two homes, including 911 calls.  The United States Attorney’s will continue to use all the federal laws and tools at our disposal to protect our communities and our citizens."

This investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Virginia State Police, the United States Marshal’s Service, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Norton Police Department, the Kingsport Tennessee Police Department, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the East Tennessee Drug Task Force, and the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, which is comprised of investigators from the Virginia State Police, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Norton Police Department, and the Big Stone Gap Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lena L. Busscher is prosecuting the criminal case. Assistant United States Attorney Krista Consiglio Frith is handling the civil forfeiture litigation.

Updated May 22, 2023