Employee dismissed in drug aftermath
Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Updated: Sunday, December 2, 2012 21:12
ETSU’s Postal Services manager was dismissed for opening a package connected to a drug case against two basketball players last week.
Marcus Dubose, an East Tennessee State University basketball player, was charged with possession of schedule VI drugs with intention to resale after a package containing marijuana was sent through ETSU Postal Services.
Sheldon Cooley, Dubose’s roommate, was charged with drug paraphernalia after a set of scales that are commonly used to weigh marijuana were found in the basketball players’ on-campus apartment. The drug paraphernalia charge was added to the charges against Dubose.
According to the police report, Harvey Byerley, former ETSU Postal Services manager, intercepted a package being sent to Dubose that contained what appeared to be marijuana.
Byerley told police that he was suspicious because Cooley and Dubose had been receiving similar express-mail packages for several weeks.
When another express-mail package arrived on Nov. 19, Byerley took it to the hazardous materials area of the campus post office and opened it.
Byerley contacted ETSU Public Safety, which confirmed that the package contained 4.8 ounces of marijuana.
The package was resealed, and agents of the First Drug Task Force and Richie Walker, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent, waited for Dubose to retrieve the package.
Dubose arrived at the post office to pick up the package at 1:10 p.m. The agents approached Dubose and questioned him about the package.
Dubose gave verbal consent for the agents to open the package. He was taken into custody and charged with possession of schedule VI drugs for resale.
Byerley was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 21, pending an internal investigation of his actions.
During the course of an internal investigation, Byerley said that he opened the package under the guidance of a former postal employee who said that ETSU Postal Services is self-operating and that after mail is delivered, the university can decide what to do with it.
Byerley spoke with Rob Wagner, a postal inspector, who said that the package should not have been opened, and it was a violation of federal law.
Byerley called the local post office on Nov. 20 and went in to meet with Maureen Oudt, interim postmaster, and two other postal employees. Oudt told Byerley that he violated the law by opening the package.
On Nov. 27, Byerley received a letter from Dr. David Collins, ETSU’s vice president of finance and administration, in which he was given a 30-day termination notice, in accordance with his contract.
Cooley and Dubose were dismissed from the ETSU men’s basketball team on Nov. 28.
According to Joe Smith, director of ETSU Media Relations, Cooley has now withdrawn from ETSU.
Cooley already had one run-in with the law this year.
He was charged with filing a false report in the aftermath of a robbery at his Buccaneer Ridge apartment in Building O.
Cooley initially told police that $1,300 was stolen. However, an investigation by ETSU Public Safety revealed that Cooley was not in possession of the amount in question and that his initial claim of the $1,300 being stolen from him was false. He was arrested on the charge of filing a false report on Feb. 23.
Cooley pleaded guilty to the charge of filing a false report in June in exchange for a suspension of a 25-day jail sentence. His plea also called for a $25 fee.
Along with his plea, Cooley was granted judicial diversion, which would have enabled him to clear his record after the successful completion of an 11-month, 29-day probation term.
The current status of Dubose’s academic future at ETSU remains unknown.