Buckhannon man arrested on drug-related charges after being stopped for improper registration

BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon man told police his history of substance abuse was linked to family trauma after he was arrested Thursday on several drug-related charges.

Billy Joe Keyser, 35, was charged with driving revoked for DUI, third offense, a felony; possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, a misdemeanor; possession of a controlled substance, heroin, a misdemeanor; and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, a misdemeanor.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Officer by investigating officer Trooper J.S. Tonkin with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, at 4:08 p.m. on Thursday, Tonkin spotted a white Volkswagen Jetta with an improper registration sticker headed north on Vicksburg Road.

Tonkin initiated a traffic stop at the Vicksburg Food Mart and spoke with Keyser, the driver. At that point, Tonkin allegedly saw a silver-and-black gun – a Lorcin .380-caliber handgun – located between the driver’s seat and the center console.

Tonkin then “pulled [Keyser] out of the vehicle” and also ordered a female passenger to exit the car. When Tonkin conducted a pat-down search on Keyser, he allegedly felt something in his left front pocket and asked and received permission to search Keyser’s pockets.

The state trooper found a white film can that held several clear plastic bags in Keyser’s pockets, according to the file.

“Inside the film can was two clear plastic baggies containing a brown powder-like substance and one clear plastic baggie containing four orange pills and one orange strip,” Tonkin wrote in the complaint.

Keyser allegedly identified the brown powder-like substance as heroin and the orange pills and orange strip as Suboxone.

Then, Sr. Trooper P.J. Robinette, also a member of the Buckhannon detachment, arrived on scene and performed a secondary search of Keyser’s person. During the search, Robinette recovered two other plastic bags that held “a white crystal substance” in another front pocket, the complaint states.

Tonkin searched the vehicle and allegedly found a backpack in the front passenger glove compartment containing two clear plastic bags with a green leaf-like substance the officers suspected to be marijuana.

When the E911 Upshur County Communication Center ran Keyser’s ID card through its database, they discovered Keyser’s driver’s license was revoked for DUI with a second-offense conviction carrying a date of Oct. 31, 2016, the report says.

The database also revealed Keyser had been convicted on several previous drug-related charges, the file says.

“During the course of conversation with [Keyser], he advised he had a long history of drug abuse after suffering a family trauma,” Tonkin wrote in the report. “[Keyser] advised that he used both methamphetamine and heroin as coping mechanisms.”

Magistrate Kay Hurst set bond at $30,000.

The penalty for a conviction of driving revoked for DUI, third offense, is confinement in the state penitentiary for one to three years and a fine of $3,000 to $5,000. A conviction on both drug possession charges carries a penalty of imprisonment in jail for a term of 90 days to six months, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. Finally, the penalty for being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm is a fine of $100 to $1,000, confinement in jail for 90 days to one year or both.

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