The Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team seized 6 pounds of marijuana and $19,000 from a Harrisburg, Pa., man's vehicle during a recent traffic stop along Interstate 70.
Ohio County Magistrate Patty Murphy arraigned Ananda Ognibene, 25, on a single count of possession with intent to distribute a schedule I controlled substance. He has since posted bond and been released from the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville.
A State Police trooper assigned to MHIT stopped Ognibene's black Mazda for traveling too close to another car in the eastbound lanes of Two-Mile Hill near The Highlands.
Ognibene reportedly told the trooper he was returning to Pennsylvania from Marshall County, where he was visiting friends. The trooper then asked about marijuana, but Ognibene said he knew nothing about it.
Ognibene's "lips began to quiver and his right cheek began to twitch near his right eye as the suspect's face went pale," according to the State Police report.
The car was towed to the State Police detachment in Wheeling, and troopers secured a search warrant. In the suitcase they found approximately s6 pounds of marijuana in several vacuum sealed bags, as well as $19,000 in the dashboard console.
Troopers also found cleaning solutions to mask the odor of the drugs in the trunk, as well a heat sealer.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 27 in front of Magistrate Harry Radcliffe. Ognibene had not yet retained an attorney as of Wednesday.
If convicted, Ognibene faces one to five years in prison.
MHIT is comprised of officers and agents from the Wheeling Police Department, the West Virginia State Police, the Ohio County Sheriff's Department, the U.S. Attorney's Office and and the Drug Enforcement Administration.