CHRISTIANSBURG — Roy David Cox and Stephanie Marie Painter last week became the latest people convicted in Montgomery County’s Operation Icy Roads methamphetamine case, with a prosecutor saying they helped sell drugs brought from Georgia to the New River Valley.
Cox, 51, of Christiansburg, was found guilty on April 19 of distributing a Schedule I or II drug and conspiring to distribute a Schedule I or II drug. He will face a maximum term of 80 years in prison when he is scheduled to return to Montgomery County Circuit Court for sentencing on July 12.
Judge Robert Turk ordered that a pre-sentence report be prepared and defense attorney Dave Rhodes of Christiansburg asked that alternative sentencing measures be considered.
Painter, 33, of Princeton, West Virginia, pleaded guilty on April 21 at another Circuit Court hearing. She appeared by a video link from jail, was convicted of conspiring to distribute a Schedule II drug, and was sentenced by Judge Mike Fleenor to 15 years in prison, to be suspended after Painter serves 10 months. Fleenor also imposed a $250 fine, said Painter would be supervised by the probation office for 15 years after her release, and barred her from possessing or buying any product that contains pseudoephedrine, which is used to make meth.
Cox and Painter were at least the 11th and 12th defendants to be found guilty in the Icy Roads case, in which 30 people where accused of 144 offenses related to transporting and selling meth. According to prosecutors, Thomas George Belcher Jr., 47, of Elliston traveled to Georgia repeatedly from November 2018 to January 2020 to buy meth, then bring it back for sale in Montgomery County and Radford.
At last week’s hearings, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Wolz said that according to other defendants, Cox let Belcher sell meth from his home and also sold some of the drug for Belcher, and that Painter traveled to Georgia with Belcher and in the New River Valley, acted as a “runner,” with Belcher arranging drug sales then sending her to perform the actual transaction.
Painter and Cox – and defense attorneys Sheila Moheb of Roanoke and Dave Rhodes of Christiansburg, respectively – agreed that the commonwealth could prove its case, but took different positions on their actual guilt.
While Painter pleaded guilty, Cox entered Alford pleas to his two charges. In an Alford plea, a defendant maintains a claim of innocence but says the evidence appears too overwhelming to challenge.
Other Icy Roads defendants have hearings scheduled this month, including Belcher, who was scheduled to stand trial on 33 charges but now has a plea hearing set for April 27.