A Raleigh County man’s life has been put on hold.
A 9-year-old boy has lost his father, a loving wife has lost her husband, a doting mother lost her son, a local church lost a basketball coach. An entire community lost a caring physician’s assistant — and a prison has gained an inmate.
Scotty Rose of Grandview started serving his two-year prison sentence Feb. 25 in Jesup, Ga., about 500 miles from his family and friends.
The 42-year-old, a Pineville native and former employee at the Federal Correctional Institution in Beckley, was convicted last summer of tampering with an FBI informant in a prison drug investigation. His sentencing followed in January.
The Pineville native contends he never knew about the investigation.
• • •
In August 2012, the FBI began an investigation into methamphetamine trafficking at the Beckley jail. One suspected inmate was targeted. Another was enlisted as an informant. He was fitted with a recording device at the FCI Beckley Health Services Department, the medical clinic within the complex where Rose had served as a physician’s assistant since 2002.
The informant spoke with the target on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2013, turning over recordings to the FBI that pointed to a delivery in West Virginia of 5 pounds of meth with a $200,000 street value.
An FBI agent said Rose knew about the investigation because the informant met with FBI agents in an X-ray room where Rose’s wife, Janeen Rose, worked as a technician.
But Rose said neither he nor his wife ever knew about the investigation.
“He would never willfully interrupt a drug investigation,” said Rose’s mother, Barbara Wyrick.
Wyrick lost a son, Joey, to heroin overdose in 2008. He was 30, a younger brother to Scotty.
“Those drugs were going to Wyoming County, to his hometown,” said Wyrick.
• • •
Rose grew up in Pineville, population 862 in 1992 when he graduated from Pineville High School as valedictorian. He got a full-ride basketball scholarship at Bluefield Southern Baptist College in Bluefield, Va., where he obtained his biology degree.
He went on to complete Physician’s Assistant schooling at The College of West Virginia.
Rose worked at a rural health clinic in McDowell County for three years, but soon looked for other opportunities.
Although apprehensive about the job itself, Rose began working at FCI Beckley in 2002 because of better benefits, a bigger salary and early retirement.
He wasn’t used to nor comfortable with the stringent requirements of a prison setting, though. He was used to having greater free will in handling his patients. At the prison, he was only allowed to prescribe certain medications, only allowed to talk to patients during their scheduled visits, only allowed so much authority.
“The benefits were good, but it was a big adjustment,” Rose said. “You had to do things their way.”
Regardless, Rose said he treated inmates just as he would any other patient.
“I just treat people the way I wanted to be treated,” Rose said. “I sit down, listen, don’t try to hurry and rush, try to give them the time I’d want from a doctor.”
When the prison switched from random patient assignment to primary care teams in 2006, Rose began developing relationships with the patients he saw regularly. He knew it was against the rules to tell his patients anything personal, anything about a staff member or “anything that would jeopardize the security of the institution.”
But one day in February 2013, he was walking with a patient whom he had treated at the prison. As they passed another inmate, Rose’s patient became angry. Rose asked him what was wrong. “I can’t stand that guy,” said Rose’s patient.
Rose knew his patient didn’t have much time left in prison, so he tried to intervene to keep him out of trouble.
“I told him to stay away from the guy. (I told him) he’s been down here a lot, so he might be a snitch.”
• • •
Rose said he had never treated the informant and he had no idea that the informant and his patient lived in the same housing unit. He said he was not privy to any information about an FBI investigation.
“I’d never seen (the informant) with the FBI; I had no idea about his situation.”
Rose was simply trying to protect a patient, he said, trying to keep him out of trouble. He didn’t think much of the situation, but when he got back from training in Washington, D.C., a few days later, he was met by one of the prison officials and an FBI agent.
“They asked me, ‘Why did you do it?’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
Word got around that the informant was a “snitch,” and he was threatened by other inmates. He had to be assigned to a special housing unit for extra protection. Prosecutors emphasized the severity of the situation, how vulnerable the informant was, and how Rose clearly put him in danger.
Because of Rose’s action, the FBI terminated its investigation. The informant could no longer safely approach the target.
When Rose was brought in for questioning, he said he was denied a union representative “because the matter was criminal.” He also said he was denied the right to an attorney.
“We were taught in-house if you proceed with investigations and be honest, it goes in your favor,” Rose said, so he proceeded with the interview, although he said he was never read his Miranda rights, was never asked to sign any paperwork and the conversation was not recorded.
He filed a claim March 2013 with the U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority stating he was denied a union representative after multiple requests.
“Management’s questions were used to obtain information and Mr. Rose had a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequence may result from what he said,” the charge stated. “Mr. Rose was never given the option to refuse to answer the questions he was asked.”
Rose was hoping the claim would prevent federal investigators from using the interview because his rights, he thought, had been violated. A settlement agreement was reached Dec. 2, 2013, between the American Federation of Government Employees Local 404 representative and FCI Beckley, in which the prison had to post a public notice for 60 days, but no agreement on the use of Rose’s interview could be reached.
Immediately after the interview, Rose was placed on home-duty status — suspension with pay. After about six months, Rose’s status was changed to suspension without pay. He willfully resigned his post.
“I’ve got a wife and kid to feed,” Rose said. “I’ve got a house payment and bills.”
Rose had already been working part-time in the emergency room at Raleigh General Hospital for the past eight years, so he picked up some extra shifts to supplement his income.
He assumed after his resignation and the loss of his retirement with the prison that the whole ordeal would just go away.
• • •
Rose had gotten a few slaps on the wrist at the prison before the February 2013 incident.
One time, he let an inmate who worked as an orderly at the clinic borrow a magazine. A co-worker reported the incident to a supervisor, and Rose was chastised. Rose said his supervisor told him he was letting his guard down by doing an inmate a favor: “He said it starts with a magazine and could lead to other things, like cigarettes or tobacco.”
Another time, Rose asked an inmate, who had also worked as an orderly, to come talk to him before he was released. He talked with the inmate in the cafeteria, and told him to list him on a staff request.
“If you didn’t hear the full conversation, it did look inappropriate,” Rose said, as prison employees are not supposed to show favoritism to the inmates. He said he just wanted to talk to the inmate, as he had to several others previously, to encourage him to steer clear of old friends, stay out of trouble and find a new and righteous path.
A third time, Rose had let an inmate, another orderly, borrow his Bible.
“He was trying to read the Bible and figure it out, interpret it. He said he had a hard time understanding it.”
Rose told the inmate he could borrow his New International Version, which was easier to read.
“It had my name in it.”
But the inmate got in trouble and was moved to a special housing unit. When prison staff packed up his belongings, they found the Bible and Rose was again warned he was not allowed to share items with inmates.
Rose called the minor infractions “nitpicky” and “petty.” Admittedly, he said, “I knew I shouldn’t do it. It was against the rules.”
He focused more on his own code of ethics shaped by his religious values and moral compass. Rose grew up in church, attending services of all denominations with his mother and grandmother.
His mom Barbara, who often wears a black shirt that reads #freescottyrose in big block letters, said, “His caring got him in trouble, his compassion, really.”
• • •
Rose was allowed to show compassion for his patients during his time at the Raleigh General ER, but not in the way he could for patients he saw on a regular basis. He started looking for a more permanent job.
Through a hospital co-worker, he landed an interview with Dr. Rhonda Guy, a family practice physician located on Stanaford Road in Beckley. She offered him a job and he began working there in December.
Less than a year later, in November 2014, he learned the FBI was pursuing a case against him. He was arraigned in January 2015, and he knew he was going to have to decide whether to plead guilty or take the case to trial.
“The only plea (deal) I was ever offered was the maximum (which was three years in prison). In my heart, I felt like I couldn’t take that plea. I couldn’t see how I was going to be found guilty.”
Rose hired Steve Hunter, a Lewisburg attorney, but he expressed dissatisfaction with his representation.
Hunter, who worked on the case with another attorney, Robert Martin, said Rose’s case was a technically difficult one. Federal prosecutors had never prosecuted anyone under that specific statute, so far as the attorneys could determine.
“I tried; I wrote very extensive motions to dismiss, attacking the indictment pre-trial,” Martin said. “The statute is just so crazy. It makes something criminal and against federal law, (without having to) demonstrate any kind of knowledge or specific intent.”
During the two-day trial in July, the defense did not present any evidence of its own, aside from Rose’s testimony.
Hunter said the move was strategic — after hearing the government’s case, he and his co-counsel believed allowing prosecutors to cross examine the defense witnesses could work against them. Instead, Hunter elected to call witnesses at the sentence hearing, to discuss Rose’s character without having to be cross examined.
Still, Rose said he wished an employee from his department could have testified to verify that neither he nor anyone he worked with knew about the FBI investigation. But because of the statute, his knowledge of the investigation was irrelevant. What mattered were his actions.
Jurors deliberated for a while, then sent a question to the judge: “What is the punishment for this crime? Will Mr. Rose get jail time?”
Rose felt the question implied the jurors did not want him to face time behind bars, but the judge could not legally respond to their question.
Ultimately, the jury came back with a “guilty” verdict, leaving Rose, his family and a community of supporters devastated.
• • •
“I was hoping for home confinement,” Rose said. “I’m a person who has no criminal history, who works extensively in the community.”
His attorney advocated for an alternate sentence for his client, such as probation, community service or home incarceration.
“I don’t think he intended to hurt anyone,” Hunter told the court. “To send him to prison would be a miscarriage of justice.”
Dozens upon dozens of friends, family members, co-workers, patients and United Methodist Temple church parishioners attended the hearing, several of whom spoke on Rose’s behalf. Doug Cales, an FCI Beckley employee, had nothing but positives to share about his former co-worker.
“Prisons were not made for men like Scotty Rose,” Cales shared.
Although Judge Irene Berger did not impose the maximum three-year sentence, nor did she impose a fine, she did sentence Rose to serve two years in prison.
As she delivered his sentence, she told Rose he knew what could happen when he called the informant a snitch.
She recommended that he not be placed at FCI Beckley for his own protection: “I’m making an effort to protect you that you did not offer to (the informant),” she told Rose. She also recommended that he be housed as close to home as possible so he could maintain relationships with his family.
The Bureau of Prisons did not honor the request. Rose will be housed at a federal prison in Georgia. His life, his career and his relationships in the community will be placed on hold.
• • •
Rose is unsure if he will get to keep his physician’s assistant license because of the felony conviction. He’s hoping to go before the Board of Medicine for a review before his sentence begins. Because the crime did not involve medicine or any medical ethics issues, he’s hoping for a license suspension instead of a revocation.
Many people have asked him if he plans to appeal his conviction, but the 14-day period to file intent of appeal has already passed. He said he wanted to appeal, but with $30,000 in legal fees already weighing on him and his family, he decided not to pursue further legal action.
Still, he and his family do not feel the sentence was just.
“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” his mother said. “He’s never even had so much as a traffic violation. There are people in the community on home confinement who have done things ten times worse.”
Wyrick said family and friends have tried appealing to elected officials, including District 31 Delegate Lynne Arvon, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin and even President Barack Obama.
“We’re writing letters to the director of the Bureau of Prisons,” Wyrick said. “It’s the only person who can change the sentence at this point.”
His wife’s biggest concern is their son, Brady, who was devastated after hearing his father won’t be around for the next two years.
“Scotty is my son’s life,” she said while holding back tears.
Rose’s pale blue eyes welled with tears as he told his wife his self-report date and his prison location, which he’d only learned earlier that morning.
His silver wedding band shone as he crossed his arms on the table in front of him. A nail cross pendant dangled from his neck as he said, “I feel like it’s a plan that God has for me for my life right now.”
He went on, “Through all this, I’ve really gotten close to God. Before all this happened, I believed in God, went to church, but wasn’t serving Him like I am now ... I’m looking at it as a mission for God. I don’t look at it as prison. We’ll come out stronger and better than we were.”
— Email: wholdren@
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