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Gov. Tomblin's brother sold drugs, U.S. attorney says

Read the information filed in federal court here

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's brother illegally sold prescription drugs in Logan County last winter, according to federal prosecutors who announced the charge Wednesday.

Carl Tomblin, 50, of Chapmanville, was charged in federal court with selling oxymorphone, an opioid painkiller often sold under the brand name Opana.

Tomblin was charged in an information, which is similar to an indictment, but generally means the defendant is cooperating with prosecutors.

The information, which has only one sentence of detail, says Tomblin "intentionally distributed" oxymorphone near Chapmanville "on or about Dec. 6, 2013."

Oxymorphone is a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe dependence, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA also classifies cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone as Schedule II drugs.

"Carl Tomblin, like many residents of Southern West Virginia, has fallen victim to prescription drug addiction. This illness has resulted in actions that he now accepts responsibility for," Robert Kuenzel, a Chapmanville attorney representing Tomblin, said in a statement. "He regrets putting his family in this position but looks forward to receiving treatment and making amends for his wrongful conduct."

Gov. Tomblin's office released a statement from the governor, who called Wednesday "a very difficult day for me and my family.

"I am saddened by my brother's actions, and I am disappointed in him -- but I love him," the governor said in the statement. "My brother must be held accountable for his actions. Like everyone dealing with drug addiction, my brother needs help. I've said many times that drug addiction can affect any family, and it has affected mine. I thank you for your prayers during this challenging time."

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office sent a news release about the charge against Carl Tomblin that did not mention his relationship to the governor, but Goodwin confirmed that he is the governor's brother when asked by the Gazette.

The investigation was a joint effort of the U.S. 119 Drug Task Force, which works frequently with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the West Virginia State Police, according to the news release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Haley Bunn is handling the prosecution for Goodwin's office. Goodwin said he would not recuse himself from the case, even though his wife, Amy Shuler Goodwin, is the governor's communications director.

"My office is conducting the investigation and prosecution," Booth Goodwin said. "It doesn't involve a conflict because the matter doesn't involve the governor."

Kuenzel said his client is not currently employed. However, Carl Tomblin previously was involved in the greyhound breeding business run by his mother, Freda Tomblin. Carl Tomblin was listed as the secretary of Tomblin Kennel Inc., Freda Tomblin's dog breeding business, until 2012. In 2012, he was replaced as secretary by Carl E. Tomblin II, according to a filing with the Secretary of State's Office.

Since 2000, Freda and Carl Tomblin have collected at least $2.5 million in subsidies paid out of state lottery revenue to support the horse and dog racing industries, according to newspaper reports.

In 2001 alone, Carl Tomblin received $222,323 from the state's Greyhound Breeders Development Fund. Tomblin Kennel received more than $400,000 from the fund that year, the most of any business in the state.

In 2013, the fund gave a total of more than $3.7 million to all greyhound breeders in the state.

It became a campaign issue in the 2011 special election for governor, when Republican candidate Bill Maloney's campaign alleged that Earl Ray Tomblin, then state Senate president and acting governor, was steering taxpayer money toward his family.

Earl Ray Tomblin repeatedly denied that he was connected to his family's business and no material connection has ever been revealed.

Carl and Freda Tomblin also founded another dog breeding business -- Logan Kennels -- but it was dissolved in 1993, according to state filings.

In 1997, Carl Tomblin was hired as manager of the new Logan Farmers Market by former state agriculture commissioner Gus Douglass. He received a salary of $20,900.

In 1986, Carl Tomblin ran unsuccessfully for Logan County clerk. In a three-man race, he received about 27 percent of the vote, losing to the incumbent, who got just under 50 percent.

As of 2008, West Virginia had the second-highest death rate from prescription drugs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The problem is especially acute in Southern West Virginia.

"This is perhaps the most challenging drug problem that there really ever has been," Booth Goodwin said at a June town meeting in Wyoming County. "These are legal drugs -- they're not Mexican or Colombian cartels -- 70 percent come from friends and family and straight out of the medicine cabinet."

Gov. Tomblin created an Advisory Council on Substance Abuse, and his wide-ranging prison reform bill provided more resources for drug treatment and expanded drug court programs.

"Families across the state asked for increased availability of substance-abuse services," Tomblin said last month in his State of the State address. "With the help of the Legislature, more assistance is available. New recovery coaches are available in north-central West Virginia to help support those graduating substance-abuse treatment programs. New detox stabilization units will begin operating in the Northern Panhandle, Greenbrier and Logan counties."

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


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