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Joanie Hoge

Buckhannon couple arrested for child neglect after allegedly selling drugs out of their home

BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon couple was arrested after allegedly selling drugs when their juvenile child was at home in November 2023.

Joanie L. Hoge, 44, was arrested Thursday, Dec. 14, for delivery of fentanyl; manufacture with the intent to deliver methamphetamine; conspiracy to manufacture, deliver and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; and child neglect, all felonies.

In addition, Donald Hoge, 55, was arrested for conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and child neglect, both felonies.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by Mountain Region Task Force Officer Sgt. Marshall O’Connor, on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, officers with the Buckhannon Police Department and the Mountain Region Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at a residence located on Elizabeth Street in Buckhannon.

The search warrant had been obtained after law enforcement officers learned that a tenant at the residence, Joanie Hoge, had allegedly participated in the sale of heroin/fentanyl.

Earlier on the same morning, Nov. 3, 2023, officers made a separate traffic stop, which led to a drug possession arrest and the seizure of heroin/fentanyl stamps. Officers with the Mountain Region Drug Task Force were allegedly able to trace the sale of the seized heroin/fentanyl stamps back to Joanie Hoge prior to the traffic stop being conducted, according to the complaint.  

After making entry into the above-referenced Elizabeth Street house, officers secured all people inside, including Joanie, her husband, Donald Hoge, and a minor, the child of Joanie and Donald Hoge.

During the search, officers allegedly located two separate journals used as written ledgers; one digital scale that contained a large amount of white powder residue; two active cellphones; approximately seven blue-colored heroin/fentanyl stamps that were blue and marked “Bugatti.”

According to the police report, when officers entered, Joanie Hoge allegedly admitted to officers that some items – the “scrapes” – they had discovered belonged to her, saying, “Those are just my scrapes.” In the report, O’Connor, the lead investigating officer, explains the term, writing, “Scrapes are leftover bags that are saved so [sellers] don’t have to use the ‘for sale’ product.”

The report also alleges officers found “three full blue ‘Bugatti’ stamps, one ‘7UP’ [stamp], one additional ‘Bugatti’ stamp, and some pills along with several items of drug paraphernalia used to package controlled substances, specifically heroin and/or fentanyl stamps.”

After speaking with both Joanie Hoge and Donald Hoge, BPD Patrolman James Fisher and O’Connor reportedly heard Joanie Hoge state, “He [doesn’t] know anything about this,” referencing Donald Hoge.

O’Connor told the parents that if he discovered they sold illegal drugs when the child was home, they could be charged with felony child neglect. Donald Hoge allegedly told police when the couple’s minor child was home earlier in the morning, he was not there.

However, police found evidence that the above-mentioned Nov. 3 sale was made at 12:29 a.m. on that day prior to the minor going to school. When asked about the local supplier, Donald Hoge allegedly stated, “[Joanie Hoge] [doesn’t] get it from here.”

Further investigation led O’Connor to discover both Joanie Hoge and Donald Hoge had remotely erased the two seized phones prior to police speaking with Joanie Hoge about the pending charges.

Upshur County Magistrate Mark Davis set bail at $65,000 for Joanie Hoge and $30,000 cash or surety for Donald Hoge.

The potential penalty for a conviction of child neglect is a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $3,000, imprisonment in a state penitentiary for one to five years or both, while the possible penalty for conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance is confinement in a state penitentiary for a determinate sentence of not less than two nor more than 10 years.

Additionally, the potential penalty for delivery of fentanyl is a fine of not more than $50,000, confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than three nor more than 15 years or both.

Finally, the penalty for manufacturing methamphetamine with the intent to deliver it is a fine of not more than $50,000, imprisonment in a state penitentiary for not less than three nor more than 15 years or both.

Please note all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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