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Berkeley candidate to ‘vigorously contest’ drug charge

Journal photo Orem
Journal photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — John Orem, Republican candidate for Berkeley County Sheriff, has issued a statement regarding a drug charge in the wake of being arraigned at Berkeley County Magistrate Court on Tuesday morning.

According to the statement, Orem was “suffering flu-like symptoms” and passed out at his house because of them, which is why he was administered Narcan twice.

“The Narcan used in this case was necessary due to an adverse reaction to a prescription opioid,” the statement reads.

Orem was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his Inwood home Tuesday morning, according to a criminal complaint. Upon arrival on the scene, police were advised that Orem had been given Narcan. They were also advised that Narcan was administered to Orem on Monday around 11 p.m. after responding for a potential narcotic overdose.

Orem was charged with misdemeanor heroin possession, and police say the charge stems from the Narcan administration, a shoelace lying on the bathroom countertop of Orem’s home, a plastic baggie located in the toilet and a metal spoon containing a white substance-which field-tested positive for heroin.

Orem is being represented by attorneys Kevin Mills and Shawn McDermott of Mills McDermott Criminal Law Center in Martinsburg, who worked alongside Orem to release the statement issued Wednesday.

“It’s important for the public to know that John Orem is not and has never been a user of illegal drugs of any kind. He will vigorously contest the legal charge against him in court,” the statement reads. “Instead of celebrating the life that may (have) been saved by the EMT’s quick response and the public service and political popularity that John has earned, he has been wrongly labeled as a drug addict when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Shortly after the initial statement was released Wednesday, a similar statement was posted to Orem’s official sheriff campaign Facebook page, which further explained the charge and his intention to continue his candidacy.

“John Orem will continue his candidacy for sheriff and would like to assure everyone that he is completely capable of serving the people of Berkeley County,” the statement reads.

The statement prepared by Orem that was posted to the Facebook page also said that the search of Orem’s home was conducted in an unwanted manner.

“Police on the scene proceeded to do an unwarranted search of the premises without permission or supervision in which they say paraphernalia was found. The state police also failed to present him promptly to a magistrate for reasons yet unknown,” according to the statement.

The Facebook statement also addressed Orem’s “flu-like symptoms” in depth.

“John had been bedridden for several days prior with a bad flu,” the statement says. “This illness had significantly weakened his body strength and his normal high immunity to medications he is prescribed, causing his loss of consciousness.”

Police on the scene said Orem refused to submit to a voluntary blood draw test after being asked multiple times.


Kevin Mills, who will be representing Orem along with his fellow attorney Shawn McDermott, said he hopes the case will be treated fairly in court.

“It is our hope-Shawn and I-that this case is not treated any differently than any other misdemeanor case. It’s like any other similar misdemeanor offense like reckless driving,” Mills said. “We hope and expect that this case is treated no differently.”

Mills said since the case, which has not been assigned as of press time Wednesday, is in magistrate court, it will be assigned to a magistrate randomly, then it will be placed on the docket for an initial hearing, which Mills said should be a status hearing.

“In every case when we’re hired, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, we have an investigator that works with the facts. I and an associate will work out the legal aspects of the case, and we treat any case as if it’s very important,” Mills said. “So, we’ll be looking at the facts. I think there are important facts in this case, and we will be looking at the law. We believe that the case has viable defenses, and we expect to litigate it zealously.”

Mills also said the law firm will be filing motions for discovery and other related motions to address the issues outlined in the case.

“We’ve handled thousands of similar cases, and we are preparing to handle our thousand and one,” Mills said. “The allegations will be defended.”

After being arraigned Tuesday, Orem was released on a $5,000 bond.

-Staff writer Emily Daniels can be reached at 304-263-8931 ext. 132 or

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