The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, William Ihlenfeld, announced the Berkeley County Domestic Violence Reduction Initiative Monday and the first indictments from it.
The initiative was formed in January to ”protect domestic violence victims, take dangerous criminals off the streets, and enhance community safety.”
The program focuses on prosecuting violent offenders, keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and conducting training for law enforcement.
Ihlenfeld was joined by officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office; the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office; the Martinsburg Police Department; and the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center — an organization with a mission “to protect victims, prevent violence and empower survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking.”
“Domestic abusers are some of the most dangerous individuals in our community,” Ihlenfeld said. “This new and innovative approach will make Berkeley County safer for everyone, and especially for victims of domestic violence.”
Multiple federal indictments were returned in May under the initiative, including the following:
- Paul Richard Tomlinson, 23, of Martinsburg was indicted on firearms, witness tampering, and interstate violations. According to court documents, Tomlinson had a protective order filed against him in Berkeley County. Tomlinson violated that order, having someone on his behalf contact the protected party, trying to persuade the victim to drop the protective order and claim ownership of a .22 caliber pistol that investigators say belongs to Tomlinson. He is prohibited from having firearms due to a prior conviction.
- Brian Michael Lewis, 42, of Levels has been charged with two firearms charges involving eight firearms, two receivers, and ammunition. According to court documents, Lewis, who has previous convictions that prohibit firearms possession, was arrested after officers responded to a domestic violence call and found the various firearms, including an unregistered short-barrel rifle.
- Gabriel Ian Smith, 45, of Falling Waters was charged with one firearms violation. Smith, who cannot have firearms because of a domestic battery conviction in Berkeley County, had a 9 mm pistol and ammunition.
- Justin Scott Shaw, 34, of Martinsburg was indicted on a firearms charge for having a 9 mm pistol and ammunition despite a domestic battery conviction in Berkeley County.
- Investigators on the cases include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office; the Martinsburg Police Department; and the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office. The Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Hampshire County Prosecutor’s Office assisted.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Ward, also with the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, is prosecuting the cases on behalf of the government.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.