The former police chief of Lynch pleaded guilty in a drug case and faces at least five years in prison.
Jackie Keith Stewart admitted possessing a 12-gauge shotgun to further drug sales he conducted while he was police chief in the historic Harlan County coal town. He pleaded guilty Oct. 6 in federal court.
Stewart and his girlfriend, Rettie D. Morris, were indicted in June on charges of conspiring to sell cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and Suboxone from February 2014 to April 2016.
Suboxone is used in medication-assisted treatment for addiction but can be abused itself.
Prosecutors filed the reduced, single charge against Stewart as part of the agreement for him to plead guilty.
Prosecutors will recommend a five-year sentence for Stewart when he is sentenced in February. That would be the minimum allowed by law.
That doesn’t mean Stewart will receive a five-year sentence, but he can appeal if U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove imposes a longer term.
The maximum sentence on the charge would be life in prison.
Morris plans to plead guilty Tuesday, according to a court document.
The federal investigation began when state police contacted the FBI and said officers had a cooperating witness who might be able to buy drugs from Stewart.
The witness bought cocaine from Stewart at his house in January, according to testimony from FBI agent Gregory Cox.
In that instance, Stewart gave Morris the keys to his police cruiser to go and pick up the cocaine from another location, according to a court record.
The same informant bought drugs from Stewart two other times, and saw Stewart snort cocaine while he was in uniform, Cox testified at a hearing.
Three other witnesses also said Stewart was involved in selling drugs, sometimes in uniform, and several people said they saw Stewart and Morris trying to make meth, according to a court document.