Idoni pleads to drug charge, battery

February 08, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Martinsburg City Councilman Frank Idoni said in court Monday that he has bipolar disorder but that he did not want to use that as a defense in his drug case.

Idoni also told Circuit Judge David Sanders that he takes medication for his bipolar condition and for chronic pain resulting from a workplace injury, and admitted to selling a prescription Fentanyl patch to a police informant last month for $200.

Idoni then formally pleaded guilty to one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance and no contest to an unrelated misdemeanor charge of battery. Sanders accepted the pleas, contingent on receiving a presentence investigation that shows the plea bargain is the best way to resolve the case.


He scheduled sentencing for April 4.

Must resign

As a condition of the plea bargain, Idoni must resign from his City Council seat. Calls made to two City Hall officials to determine whether Idoni turned in his resignation were not returned Monday.

Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Idoni does not have to resign until after the sentencing hearing.

Idoni declined to comment after the hearing, referring questions to his attorney, Kevin Mills.

Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. George Swartwood, the lead investigator on the drug case, said during the hearing that he agreed with the plea bargain provided Idoni obeys all conditions of his bond.

Sanders asked Games-Neely to read aloud those conditions for the record.

Games-Neely said Idoni must not violate any local, state or federal laws; must have no contact with any witnesses, the confidential informant or any police officers involved in the case; and must not possess any firearms. If Idoni wants to appear on any city-owned property he must first sign in with the appropriate department supervisor, Games-Neely said.

Any violations of those conditions would cause Idoni to be returned to Eastern Regional Jail. He is free on $20,000 bail.

If Sanders accepts the plea bargain after reviewing the presentence report, Idoni would be sentenced to serve one to 15 years in prison on the drug charge, and one year in jail on the battery charge. Both sentences would be suspended and Idoni would be ordered to serve a five-year probation term.

That probation term can be transferred to another state. Mills said Idoni plans to move elsewhere.

As part of the plea bargain, the state would not prosecute a second count of delivery of a controlled substance that was filed against Idoni last month.

During a question-and-answer session with Sanders, Idoni said he has taken some college courses and previously worked as a cabinetmaker and carpenter before becoming disabled. He then worked in sales, including at a furniture store in Martinsburg.

He said he has never considered himself to be hooked on drugs.

Sale to informant

When asked to recount what led to the drug charge being filed, Idoni said a man he knew came to his house and claimed that a friend was suffering from pain. He said he accepted $200 for a prescription Fentanyl patch.

Fentanyl patches, which are classified as Schedule II controlled substances, are used to help alleviate chronic pain.

Idoni told Sanders that he understands a felony conviction means he loses the right to vote, own or possess any type of firearm and serve on a jury.

The drug charges were filed on Jan. 21 after Idoni, on two occasions, sold a Fentanyl patch to a police informant, records allege. The drug transactions, which took place on Jan. 7 and Jan. 11, were recorded using video and audio surveillance equipment, police alleged.

The battery charge stemmed from an incident in October 2004 in which Idoni allegedly spit on and punched a teenager whom he felt was driving too fast through his neighborhood, court records state. Idoni suffered a black eye in the scuffle.

Idoni moved to Martinsburg from Texas a few years ago. He was elected in June 2004 to represent the city's Ward 5 residents, defeating longtime Councilman Glenville Twigg by four votes. Fewer than 100 people voted in the Ward 5 race.

During the campaign, Idoni said that one of his main goals was to help clean up his neighborhood.

At a City Council meeting in November 2004, Mayor George Karos read aloud a letter of no confidence, followed by a unanimous Council vote requesting Idoni to resign. Idoni refused.

Last week, Mills advised Idoni not to attend a City Council meeting.

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