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Mountain City officer arraigned on federal charges, waives bond hearing

Becky Campbell • Updated Nov 8, 2017 at 7:02 PM

A Mountain City police officer on unpaid leave waived a federal detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Greenville during his initial appearance Tuesday on drug charges.

Lt. Ronald Shupe, 44, was arrested on Monday on charges of possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone and possession of a firearm that had been shipped and transported by interstate commerce. The charges stem from an undercover operation where Shupe allegedly met with an undercover informant and bought oxycodone pills, purportedly for himself and another officer at the department.

Court records show text and Facebook messages between the Shupe and the unidentified informant about the transaction. Shupe was under surveillance when he met with the person, who was wearing a wire. After the informant gave Shupe oxycodone pills, which Shupe paid for, the officer was arrested.

As soon as he left the meeting, Shupe was surrounded by agents from the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

In addition to waiving a detention hearing, which means he won’t ask for bond at this time, Shupe filled out a financial form to see if he qualified for a court-appointed attorney. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cliff Corker granted the request and appointed Russ Pryor to the case.

Corker also set a Nov. 15 preliminary hearing for Shupe.

Shupe was under investigation by state and federal authorities for months after another confidential witness, who was being held on drug charges in Ashe County, N.C., gave information to Johnson County Sheriff’s Department investigators about having obtained methamphetamine from Shupe. The informant also claimed she and Shupe shot up the drugs in his cruiser — five or six times between August 2016 and March 2017 — while he was in uniform and on duty.

After his arrest, Shupe was placed on unpaid administrative leave. Another officer in the department, who was named in court documents but not charged in the case, was also placed on unpaid leave.

Shupe was being held in the Washington County Detention Center.

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