Indictments Include 17 Drug-Trafficking Charges
WHEELING — When Wheeling police officers raided the Batting Cage Pub and Eatery on Wednesday, they had more on their agenda than just closing the business.
Police Chief Kevin Gessler led a force of eight Wheeling police officers, three Ohio County sheriff’s deputies and a police dog as they converged on the 210 Warwood Ave. business to serve papers ordering it to close its doors. Gessler said the establishment was ordered closed because it does not have the necessary licenses to conduct business in the city and because it has been deemed a public nuisance.
During the raid, John M. Bruce was arrested on drug-related charges.
At the same time, according to police Lt. Gary Gauss, Battin Cage owner John Michael Simmons was being arrested at his Wheeling Island home.
Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith said Thursday that Simmons, of 402 S. Front St., Wheeling, “is named in a nine-count indictment along with Bruce, alleging that on or about Oct. 7 and Oct. 16, 2003, April 25 and 29, 2005, and Jan. 9 and May 2, he committed the offenses of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, delivery of a Schedule I controlled substance and conspiracy. If convicted on all counts, Simmons faces nine to 80 years in prison, Smith said.
According to Smith, Bruce, of 317 Hall St., Bridgeport, was indicted on eight counts, alleging he committed the offenses of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance and conspiracy on Jan. 9.
Gauss said a third suspect allegedly involved in drug activity at the Batting Cage has been indicted but not identified because he has not yet been arrested.
The indictments came as the result of a rare, two-day session of the Ohio County grand jury earlier his week in which 48 true bills were returned. Smith said two days were required because of the volume of presentments submitted for consideration.
“The grand jury usually winds up in one day,” Smith said. “This is the most grand jury indictments I can remember.“
In addition to Simmons and Bruce, 15 people were indicted for drug trafficking:
? Dwayne O. Grantham, 26, of 145 1/2 Virginia St., Wheeling was named in three counts alleging he committed the offenses of possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance, burglary and fleeing on July 24. If convicted, Grantham could be sentenced to three to 30 years in prison.
? Michael Joseph Flinn, 28, of Summerville, S.C., was indicted on three counts alleging he committed the offenses of possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance, second offense, carrying a concealed deadly weapon and fleeing on Aug. 4. Flinn could be sentenced to four to 10 years if convicted.
? Jamar Creighton, 27, no address given, is charged with one count of second-offense delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance on July 6. If convicted, he could serve two to 30 years in prison.
Of the remaining drug trafficking indictments, the names of 12 violators were listed as “John Doe.” At a news conference Thursday, Smith said the “John Does” could not be identified because they have not yet been arrested.
Smith said the drug violations were investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, consisting of officers from the Wheeling Police Department and the Ohio and Marshall county sheriff’s departments.