CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court has annulled the law license of a Danville attorney after he apparently was involved in drug abuse, shoplifting and receiving and transferring stolen property.
The order was filed Feb. 14. The Supreme Court accepted Joshua W. Sheets’ consent to disbarment and issued an order annulling his license to practice law in West Virginia.
On Dec. 26, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel presented the Supreme Court with a petition asking the court to accept the annulment of Sheets’ law license.
Sheets’ consent to disbarment, as well as a formal affidavit, were filed under seal. On Dec. 5, Sheets executed the affidavit expressing his desire to consent to disbarment under seal.
Sheets was admitted to the bar in 2011 and his status was previously noted as “inactive” on the West Virginia State Bar website.
On April 4, 2016, a complaint was docketed by the ODC against Sheets and a statement of charges was filed on Jan. 11, 2017.
In that statement of charges, it says Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Justin Marlowe filed that April 4, 2016, complaint against Sheets. It says that while Boone County law enforcement officials were investigating an overdose death, Sheets was interviewed and admitted he had purchased heroin.
It says Sheets also had been charged with shoplifting from the Southridge Walmart location. According to a Sept. 23, 2014, complaint, Sheets was charged with shoplifting $115.98 worth of merchandise. He later pleaded guilty and paid restitution of $231.96.
It also states that Sheets was involved in the improper disposal of a body and possible delivery of drugs on March 3, 2016. He said he had provided money to purchase some “dope” and did receive the drugs. He also said he used the drugs and that someone in his group became unconscious after taking heroin and stopped breathing.
“Respondent (Sheets) indicated that they were headed to the hospital when the person started breathing again and, ultimately, they left the person in the car to ‘sleep it off,’” the statement says. “Respondent said that he checked on the person several hours later and found the person to be snoring and drooling.
“Respondent stated that when he awoke after sleeping, he heard that something about the person being ‘found.’ Respondent said later in the interview that he did ‘some chest compressions on him while he was in the back seat, you know, because it’s not like when he started breathing he was just breathing fine and everything was cool. Like, you know, he would stop intermittently.’”
Sheets said he hadn’t used the heroin before he first did the chest compressions.
On Sept. 19, 2016, the ODC learned Sheets was involved in a high-speed chase and that drug paraphernalia was found in the car. He said he was a passenger in a car driven by Samuel Dewayne Breedlove, who was fleeing authorities. Sheets said he asked Breedlove to stop the vehicle when they were being chased. On Sept. 24, 2016, Sheets also was accused of fraudulent possession and use of a credit card.
On Nov. 7, 2016, Sheets was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and transferring or receiving stolen property in Kanawha County when authorities found a large amount of stolen property from Boone County in a Motel 6 room in Cross Lanes.
A man with the same name, also from Danville, was indicted in August and charged with stealing guns from a Boone County firearms dealer. He pleaded guilty in December.
In that incident, another man admitted he served as a lookout for Sheets in November 2016 while Sheets broke into the store and stole multiple firearms. Sheets admitted to arranging a sale of guns that were stolen from the same dealer in an earlier burglary.
Sheets and the other man face up to 10 years in federal prison when they are sentenced on March 21.
A phone call to confirm if the former attorney was the same as the one indicted on the stolen firearms charges was unanswered.
W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals case number: 17-1127