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Former Mountain City Police Officer Ken Lane arrested on federal weapons charge

By Becky Campbell

Johnson City Press

Senior Reporter

One of the former Mountain City police officers charged in an undercover drug operation has a new indictment against him in federal court.
Elmer Kenneth “Ken” Lane, 61, was arrested Monday on a single-count indictment charging him with possessing weapons while being an “unlawful user and addict of a control substance.” The indictment also stated the weapons were “shipped and transported in interstate commerce.”
In layman’s speak, it simply means Lane, who was a sergeant with the Mountain City Police Department at the time, is charged with owning the weapons, which were made in another state and shipped into Tennessee, and he did so while being under the influence of drugs.
The seven weapons listed in the indictment were:
• Smith & Wesson, Model 10, .38 Special revolver;
• Smith & Wesson, Model 66, .357 Magnum revolver;
• Smith & Wesson, Model 19, .357 Magnum revolver;
• Remington, Model 110, 12-gauge shotgun;
• Marlin, Model 336W, 30-30 rifle; and
• Two Glock 22, .40-caliber pistols.
Lane’s initial arrest occurred after a fellow police officer  — according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation — was arrested when he purchased Oxycodone for himself and for Lane from a confidential informant who was working with law enforcement. That fellow officer, Ron Shupe, who was a Mountain City police lieutenant, was arrested Nov. 7 immediately after the alleged drug transaction in Mountain City. At the time, agents said Shupe was in uniform, on duty and and in his patrol car. Both men have now been fired from the Mountain City police force.
That arrest was on federal charges, but at the time, Lane was not charged in federal court. Both men, however, were also indicted by a Johnson County grand jury and arrested on Nov. 9 on state charges.
Lane’s state charges were:
• Conspiracy to possess schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone;
• Solicitation to commit delivery of schedule II drugs (oxycodone); and
• Simple possession of schedule II drugs (methamphetamine).
Shupe’s state charges were:
• Possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony;
• Possession of schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone;
• Conspiracy to possess schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone;
• Solicitation to commit assault;
• Accessory after the fact;
• Release of confidential information;
• Casual exchange of schedule VI drugs (marijuana);
• Simple possession of schedule II drugs (methamphetamine);
• Theft of property over $1,000 (marijuana); and
• Three counts of official misconduct.
The charges against Lane apparently stemmed from information authorities obtained while investigating Shupe, according to federal court records. Investigators apparently discovered Shupe’s alleged drug activities while interviewing a woman jailed in North Carolina on drug charges in June. She told Johnson County Sheriff’s Office investigators that Shupe provided her with methamphetamine several times, and they did the drug together in his patrol car while Shupe was on duty.
After that initial interview, investigators obtained a transcript of Facebook messages between the woman and Shupe. The messages did not contain blatant admissions of drug use, but investigators claim there were descriptions and terms used that led them to believe the two were discussing obtaining and using methamphetamine.
The investigation led officers to subpoena cellular phone companies for text messages between another confidential informant and an account registered to Shupe. Those exchanges also led investigators to believe Shupe was buying narcotics, not just for himself but also for Lane.
In early August, District Attorney General Tony Clark asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to begin an investigation as well. That investigation ran in conjunction with the federal probe. Federal authorities set up a sting operation on Nov. 7, in which one of the confidential informants met with Shupe, gave the officer oxycodone and Shupe gave the informant money. After Shupe left the transaction, he was surrounded by agents from the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
According to the presentment filed Nov. 9 in Johnson County, the transactions involved a school zone were near Johnson County High School. One official misconduct charge against Shupe accused him of soliciting a man to badly beat someone up or to do it in the city and “I will take care of it” and the unidentified person “will learn the hard way.”
Another official misconduct charge alleged that Shupe took marijuana from the Mountain City Police Department with the intent to distribute it to someone with whom he was involved in a drug conspiracy. The third official misconduct charge alleged that Shupe disclosed information about a violation of probation warrant, which allowed the person to leave town undetected.
The release of confidential information alleged Shupe told someone in the public where another officer lived. Home addresses of police officers is confidential information protected by state law.
Shupe cut a deal with federal prosecutors last week and he waived the indictment process and will plead guilty to possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute. He faces up to 20 years in prison on that single charge. His plea hearing is scheduled for Dec.6 in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. He remains in custody without bond at the Washington County Detention Center, which contracts to hold federal inmates.
Lane posted a $25,000 bond on the state charges and a filing in federal court indicated he will remain free on bond and monitored by the federal probation office while the case is pending. He was arraigned on the federal charge Monday and has a Jan. 11 plea deadline. If no plea agreement occurs, there is a trial scheduled for Jan. 25 in Greeneville.