BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon man remained lodged in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail Thursday following his arrest on Sunday for several gun and drug-related charges stemming from two traffic stops – one in September and a second early this month.
Franklin Lee Tefft, 42, has been charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a misdemeanor; two counts of a prohibited person in possession of a concealed firearm, a felony; two counts of false registration, a felony; and one count of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, a misdemeanor.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Deputy Tyler Gordon of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department, on Sept. 21, Gordon initiated a traffic stop on a Chevy S-10 truck on the Industrial Park Road in Buckhannon because of defective lighting and the vehicle being improperly registered.
Gordon spoke to the driver, Tefft, who gave him permission to search the vehicle. At that point, Gordon allegedly saw the passenger trying to hide something just prior to the two exiting the vehicle. The file states that the object was a blue waterproof container containing several needles allegedly used to ingest drugs and a small plastic bag with 1.2 grams of methamphetamine inside.
Gordon later located a .22-caliber handgun hidden in the door of the pick-up truck, and when questioned about it, Tefft allegedly admitted it was his and said he’d forgotten it was in the door.
In addition, Tefft reportedly told Gordon he regularly used meth and marijuana, the file states.
The second traffic stop occurred on Saturday, Nov. 3, when Gordon saw a Mitsubishi Eclipse driving north on Route 20 in French Creek, and observed it appeared to be traveling faster than the 40 mph speed limit.
Gordon also linked the vehicle to an investigation related to the use of a fraudulent credit card that occurred earlier in the week, the report states.
The deputy pulled the vehicle over as it attempted to turn into the Dollar General Store parking lot in French Creek. As he approached the driver’s side window, Gordon could allegedly smell “the strong odor of fresh marijuana.”
Gordon then identified the driver as Tefft, whose driver’s license had been previously revoked, according to Gordon.
The officer subsequently searched the vehicle and allegedly located two small plastic bags of a green leafy substance he believed to be marijuana in Tefft’s pants pocket, and Tefft allegedly admitted the substance was marijuana.
Gordon also allegedly found a small caliber handgun in the door compartment; however, Tefft had been advised during the first traffic stop – Sept. 21 – that he was banned from possessing a firearm in West Virginia because he was an “unlawful user” of controlled substances, according to the complaint.
“Again, the handgun was concealed from sight, and it was not until [I] (Gordon) asked [Tefft]” and the passenger to exit the vehicle that Tefft allegedly informed Gordon where the weapon was located, Gordon wrote in the complaint.
In addition, the license plate was linked to the name of another person who lives on Hildreth Road in Upshur County, near where Tefft was residing, the file states. And although the license plate displayed a 2019 registration expiration sticker, the license plate had actually expired in 2017, according to Gordon’s report.
Gordon wrote that Tefft was aware he didn’t own the title to the Mitsubishi and that it wasn’t registered properly.
Magistrate Mike Coffman set bail at $75,000.
The penalty for a conviction of felonious possession of a firearm is confinement in jail for a period ranging from 90 days to one year and/or a fine of $100-$1,000 per count. If convicted on a count or counts of prohibited person in possession of a concealed firearm, Tefft faces confinement in jail for up to three years and/or a fine of $5,000 per count.
The penalty for a conviction of false registration is confinement in jail for one to five years and a fine between $500 and $5,000. Finally, the penalty for being found guilty of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, is 90 days to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.