Recent drug arrest latest in series for Charleston attorney

By Lawrence Smith | Sep 2, 2009


CHARLESTON - Including being on bond from one three months ago, court records show a Charleston attorney was arrested on three other occasions for drug-related charges in addition to his most recent arrest.

After being stopped for running a red light at the intersection of U.S. 119 and Oakwood Road in Charleston, John W. Alderman III was arrested and charged on Sept. 1 with one count each of possession of a controlled substance, obstructing an officer, failure to stop for a traffic signal and improper or defective equipment. According the complaint filed by Cpl J.H. Thaxton of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department, Alderman, 45, had in his Toyota Sequoia two homemade pipes under the gearshift, and one-and-a-half Xanax bars inside a cigarette pack.

After discovering the pipes, Thaxton placed them on the hood of his cruiser. When he continued to search Alderman's vehicle, Alderman threw the pipes off the Interstate bridge.

According to his complaint, Thaxton did not realize this until he went to show the pipes to other deputies who arrived as back-up. After reviewing the video from his on-board camera showing Alderman ditching the pipes, Thaxton placed him under arrest, and transported him to the South Central Regional Jail in South Charleston.

Records show almost three months ago, Alderman, again, was charged with drug offenses.

On June 3, Cpl. R. C. Basford of the Charleston Police Department found both Aprazolam pills and crack cocaine in a GMC Yukon Alderman was operating along the 2200 block of 7th Ave. in North Charleston. Though records are unclear if a traffic stop was initiated on Alderman, Basford said that the pills were found under the driver's seat, and the crack cocaine was in an eye glass case on which Alderman was sitting.

In his complaint, Basford noted that the Aprazolam was found in a bottle with Alderman's name on it. However, the prescription was for Vyvance.

After he was charged with one count of simple possession for the Aprazolam, a misdemeanor, and possession with intent to distribute for the crack cocaine, a felony, Alderman was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. Among the conditions of his bond, Alderman was to remain drug- and alcohol-free, and not be charged with other crimes.

Following his arrest on Sept. 1, Assistant Kanawha County Prosecutor Amy Paxton filed a motion later that day asking Alderman's bond be revoked, and a capias be issued for his arrest. However, Alderman, as of presstime, was still incarcerated at SCRJ pending release on $12,500 bond on the Sept. 1 charges.

Records show his preliminary hearing on the June 3 charges is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Older charges dismissed

Prior to his arrests this years, records show Alderman was charged again last year and in 2006. Both instances dealt with prescription drugs.

On Sept. 3, 2008, West Virginia State Police Trooper James T. Findley responded to a disabled vehicle complaint on Interstate 77 outside Charleston where he found Alderman changing a flat tire on his Sequoia. According to his complaint, Findley issued Alderman a citation earlier that day for possession of Klonopins and Xanax without a prescription.

After Alderman said he made a trip to Beckley after the earlier encounter, Findley, who obtained Alderman's permission to search the vehicle, found a sandwich bag containing 25 Lortabs in the backseat.

Following his arrest, and processing at the South Charleston detachment, Findley alleged he found an additional Lortab in Alderman's right sock. According to his complaint, Alderman possessed all the Lortabs "without a valid prescription."

However, after a motion filed by then-Assistant Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants, the charges were dismissed. In his motion filed Sept. 9, Plants, who was elected prosecutor in November, said he was able to confirm from Dr. Janet Wallace that Alderman did indeed have valid "prescriptions of all the drugs in [the] complaint."

Also dismissed was a charge of attempting to obtain a prescription by forgery, a felony. Records show the charge was dismissed on Nov. 3, four days after he was arrested, when he pled no contest to a related charge of receiving and transferring stolen property, a misdemeanor.
According to court records, Alderman was fined $160.50, and ordered to pay it within 180 days.

No further information is available about the case as records show Magistrate Carol Fouty on April 23, 2007 entered an "affirmative finding of innocence on this and any related charges" and ordered the "police record stricken in full." According to a complaint filed against Alderman with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the investigative arm of the state Bar, Fouty's order came in response to a motion filed on March 8, 2007 by Alderman's then-attorney, John R. Mitchell Jr., who asked Fouty to set-aside the plea based on Mitchell's "own representations that he failed to inform [Alderman] of the ramifications of the plea and that [Alderman] was in a state of duress at the time of the plea."

Kanawha Magistrate Court, Case Nos. 09-M-10232-35, 6875, 09-F-1217, 08-M-12423, 06-M-12805 and 06-F-2419

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