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Image 1 of The Independent March 19, 2012

Part of The Independent

The Independent W W W . D A I LY I N D E P E N D E N T . C O M MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2012 ASHLAND, KENTUCKY 41101 © 50 CENTS DAILY/$1.50 SUNDAY PILL-TRAFFICKING RINGS Unsealed documents reveal trail of cash, deceit By KENNETH HART The Independent ASHLAND Recently unsealed court documents shed more light on the arrest of a Florida man whom authorities allege was a major supplier for prescription pill-trafficking rings based in Boyd County. According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Richard A. “Rick” Young of Fort Myers was arrested last month in Lexington after he met a cooperating witness in a Walmart parking lot to deliver 2,000 oxycodone pills. The cooperating witness had contacted Young and arranged to buy the pills for approximately $25,000, according to J. Randolph Cline’s affidavit. Agents found the pills hidden in the taillights of the pickup truck Young was driving. Young claimed the pills were fake. The authenticity of the pills had been determined as of the date the affidavit was filed. The witness told authorities she had known Young since January 2008, and in May of that year, she traveled to Florida and helped Young count approximately 5,000 pills he had purchased from people who had sold him their prescriptions for $500 apiece, the affidavit states. Young would then transport the pills to Florida and sell them to Anthony “Tony” McKenzie. Tony McKenzie was arrested in September 2010. He and his brother, Billy, subsequently pleaded guilty to operating a large-scale pill-trafficking operation and were sentenced to prison terms. Six others also pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy. The Boyd County Sheriff’s Department recently announced the arrests of Young and five others: Charlie N. Angell, whom court records identify as Young’s former girlfriend; Darnell D. Butler and Rico D. Tillman, all of Ashland; Hammond J. Coleman of Fort Myers and Ashland and Christina Mayhone of Huntington. The federal indictment returned last month also names an additional defendant, Leonard Eugene Vaughan. See PILLS / Page A10 PHOTOS BY TIM PRESTON / THE INDEPENDENT ABOVE: Entrepreneur Mike Wheeler poses at his Flatwoods headquarters. BELOW: Wheeler confers with one of his employees in the office. Homegrown success story Lawn-care business spawns other lucrative enterprises By TIM PRESTON The Independent FLATWOODS Mike Wheeler began his business with nothing more than a push mower and a weed trimmer. District’s career program targets young teens By MIKE JAMES The Independent CANNONSBURG Trained volunteers sat down with eighth-graders and sophomores at several area schools last week to prepare them for an increasingly competitive future. They discussed test scores, aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses, all to prompt the students to start thinking about their careers before it is too late. “We want to get kids thinking long term and give them the opportunity to reach their full potential by the time they get out of high school,” said Norma Meek, community involvement coordinator for the Boyd County School District. She coordinated Operation: Preparation in her district, recruiting parents, community members, teachers and administrators to serve as counselors for a day. The statewide initiative is important because a highschool diploma isn’t the career passport it used to be, Meek said. Inside of a decade, highschool graduates will have a hard time finding jobs without additional education. More than half the jobs in Kentucky and more than 60 percent of jobs in the United States will require either a two- or four-year degree, and most other jobs will require additional training after high school, according to the nonprofit Center for EducaSee CAREERS / Page A10 Businessman Mike Wheeler counting. Before long, the demands of his growing business and college courses became more than he could juggle. “I had 10 or 12 employees and couldn’t keep up with school and Documentary will focus on varied facets of relationships By TIM PRESTON The Independent ASHLAND The people who brought television viewers “Dancing With the Stars” and “Top Gear” are looking for a few real-life tales of love and relationships from How you can help victims of tornadoes that swept through Morgan, Lawrence, Johnson and Martin counties. DETAILS ON A10 Performing Minimally Invasive Heart Bypass N “It’s the people working with me that made this all happen.” work, so I had to make a decision, and it was pretty tough,” Wheeler said, recalling his mother wasn’t thrilled with his decision, but enSee WHEELER / Page A10 Wanted: Kentucky love stories I NDEX MIKE JAMES / THE INDEPENDENT Melissa King, a speech and language pathologist in the Boyd County School District’s preschool program, talks about career readiness with sophomore Rachel Walker. Today, Tri-State Lawn Care is just one aspect of a homegrown empire that spans real estate, landscaping, swimming pools, commercial and residential construction and bulk materials. “I started at 13 years old working for my grandfather and uncle mowing, or mostly with a weed eater. I did a lot of walking and picking up trash,” Wheeler said. “I started doing it on my own for $15 or $20 a lawn, and I thought, ‘If I work hard and fast, I can do well with this.’ The business grew, and I got friends to help as I got more calls. Paul Daniels, Evan White and Chris Fannin were the main guys who helped me out a lot.” Wheeler worked from a building behind his parents’ house, as well as a room in their basement and also attended classes at Ashland Community and Technical College, where he studied business and ac- Kentucky. Marshall James, a Lexington native, said he decided to turn to his home state when BBC Worldwide Productions gave him his latest assignment, a documentary film for HBO portraying the positive side of DEATHS..........................A4 REGION....................A2,4,7 LIFESTYLES....................B4 OPINION ........................A8 SPORTS........................B1-3 relationships. “The film will be a warm, endearing look at love and relationships. In a world where fewer and fewer couples are getting married, and where nearly half of marriages end in divorce, we’re taking a positive look at the people who are together — the couples who stay together through the good times and the bad,” James said. “We will be talking to couples from every generation and from every walk of life, from those in the first flush of romance to those who have been together for 50 or 60 years or more, and everyone in between,” he said. “We will be finding out from people how they first met, what brought them to- TODAY’S WEATHER HIGH ....83 LOW ....57 FULL FORECAST, PAGE A10 See LOVE / Page A6

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