By MELINDA WILLIAMS
WYTHE COUNTY – A wreck on Interstate 77 Sunday lead to the arrest of a Dublin pharmacist on drug charges, according to Wythe County Sheriff Doug King.
King said Russell Stuart Gates, 51, of Wythe County was arrested after drugs and weapons were found inside a 2005 Pontiac Gates was driving at the time of the wreck.
“That led us further into an investigation,” said King, adding that he cannot comment on “other aspects of the case” due to the fact the investigation is ongoing.
Gates is the head pharmacist at Dublin Pharmacy, which apparently is closed indefinitely. Customers reported the doors were locked and that employees were locked out when they went to pick up prescriptions earlier this week.
According to the Virginia Judicial System website, Gates is charged with:
•First offense of DWI (driving while under the influence of drugs),
•Three counts of possession of controlled substances (two involving Schedule II drugs and one involving Schedule III drugs),
•Carrying a concealed .38-caliber revolver,
•Possession of a gun while in possession of a Schedule I or II drug,
•Unauthorized distribution of controlled drug paraphernalia,
•Operate an uninsured motor vehicle,
•Reckless driving, and
•Failure to carry a driver’s license.
Gates was traveling northbound in a 2005 Pontiac around 6 a.m. Sunday when he lost control at mile marker 29.5 and crashed, King said. No one was with Gates at the time and King did not know whether Gates received any injuries.
According to King, a witness reported that Gates was driving “erratically” before crashing the car.
Of the misdemeanor charges filed against Gates, four are Class 1, carrying maximum sentences of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine; one is a Class 3, carrying a maximum fine of $500, and one is unclassified, meaning the penalty can vary.
Gates also faces two Class 5 felonies, carrying a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500, and a Class 6 felony, which can result in a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Gates was supposed to be arraigned in Wythe County General District Court Monday, Dec. 10, but the hearing was continued. An arraignment hearing is designed to arrange for legal representation and to make sure the defendant knows the charges.
The next hearing date is set for Thursday, Feb. 7, at 1 p.m.