Jury trial underway for Portsmouth man facing federal gun, drug charges

Kenneth Matthews

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A man facing federal gun and drug dealing charges faces a jury this week.

Federal and state police raided the homes of Kenneth Matthews and his son, Kenneth Meeks, in Portsmouth last August.

In Matthews’ home, according to court documents, agents found more than $30,000 in cash, 17 grams of cocaine, digital scales, marijuana, 13 rifles, 12 shotguns, eight pistols and one revolver.

When Matthews’ trial began, his son served as a witness for the Commonwealth, testifying against his father, according to Matthews’ defense attorney, James Broccoletti.

Meeks reached an agreement with prosecutors in January, pleading guilty to a cocaine and gun charge.

In court Tuesday, Meeks testified that after he was released on bond, he flushed heroin that agents had missed in the raid.

Wednesday, two men doing 11 and 20 years in prison for dealing drugs testified against Matthews.

Both said they had worked with Matthews and his son, but Broccoletti’s cross-examination revealed both drug dealers had misled agents, telling them during initial interviews they did not know Matthews and Meeks.

Both testified they agreed in jail not to tell investigators about their dealings with the father and son, because Matthews and Meeks had not been arrested, and they didn’t know what evidence prosecutors had against them.

“I was scared. There are people who are peaceful, there are people who are violent. You worry about your family,” said one witness.

The witnesses testified that it was possible their sentences could be reduced in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors, but said they were only testifying because they wanted to tell the truth.

“I signed it only to tell the truth to the government, not to lie,” said one witness of his plea agreement.

Matthews’ trial is expected to continue through Thursday. He faces two counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and two charges for transferring a firearm to a felon.