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Tomblin’s brother gets home confinement, probation for federal drug charge

By David Gutman, Staff writer

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s brother will spend eight months on home confinement and three years on probation for selling prescription painkillers to an undercover informant.

Carl Tomblin, 50, was sentenced in federal court on Wednesday afternoon. Tomblin pleaded guilty to the federal drug charge in March.

Tomblin admitted to selling between 30 and 40 oxymorphone pills between May 2013 and Jan. 2014. Beginning in December, he sold five pills to an undercover confidential informant in Chapmanville.

In Tomblin’s situation, federal sentencing guidelines call for a prison sentence of 12 to 18 months.

But U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver credited him for his forthrightness, as the judge imposed a light sentence, with no prison time.

Once Carl Tomblin was confronted by law enforcement, he immediately told them the full extent of his drug dealing. Copenhaver said that if he had not been so honest with authorities, the sale of five pills would only have brought him probation.

“You’ve engaged in drug dealing, but you’re at the lowest level of doing that,” Copenhaver said. “One pill at a time.”

Oxymorphone is a powerful painkiller often sold under the brand name Opana. It is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe dependence.

“Your honor, I met with the individual and he told me he had a need for an oxymorphone pill and I knew where he could get it,” Tomblin said when he pleaded guilty in March. “He gave me the money, and I purchased it for him, and I did it a couple of different times.”

Rob Kuenzel, Tomblin’s lawyer, said that Tomblin has recently moved back in with his elderly parents and is working in the family business again. Tomblin’s mother, Freda, breeds and raises greyhounds for racing.

“I’d like to apologize to the family I’ve caused embarrassment to, my mom and dad,” Tomblin told the court, adding that he is helping his mother, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

Tomblin is taking Suboxone, a prescribed medication for opioid dependence.

He tested positive for Valium before his plea hearing, but has since taken eight drug tests, all of which have been negative, Copenhaver said.

In arguing for a prison sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Haley Bunn said Tomblin “was clearly feeding others’ addictions while knowing the impact addiction had on his own life.”

Tomblin was initially charged by information, which is like an indictment but generally means a defendant is cooperating with prosecutors.

During home confinement, Tomblin will not be allowed to leave the house except for work or medical emergencies and will have to wear an electronic tracking device. Copenhaver also ordered him to begin an intense drug counseling program.

Gov. Tomblin released a statement after his brother’s arrest saying he was “saddened by my brother’s actions, and I am disappointed in him — but I love him.”

After the sentencing, Kuenzel said that Tomblin was appreciative and grateful for the sentence.

“He is also grateful for the government’s fair handling of the matter,” Kuenzel said in an email. “He looks forward to continuing his substance treatment and putting this matter behind him.”

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.


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