December 27, 2007
Operation Ho Ho Ho plays Scrooge in morning raids
by James Cook, Times Editor
With Christmas only four days away and while many were still sound a sleep, a group of over 20 officers from different agencies began knocking on doors around 4:30 a.m. last Friday morning. Yes, it was another program to bring a present to some, but it was not the gift they had wanted. With charges ranging from flagrant non-support to burglary and theft to rape and even several drug related charges, a roundup was conducted by local and state law enforcement officers.
Police officers from the Powell County Sheriff’s Department, Clay City and Stanton Police Departments were joined by officers from the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Enforcement and Kentucky State Police, to serve various warrants throughout Powell and surrounding counties. The raid, dubbed by some as Operation Ho Ho Ho, was set up to bring in at least 60-65 alleged perpetrators of different crimes. When the dust settled just before 7:30 a.m. police had arrested 33 subjects and located three more. The ones who were located were found to either be in a hospital’s mental health ward or incarcerated in another county’s detention center.
The raid moved swiftly and with great success. The officers met at the Powell County Courthouse in the District Courtroom in the back of the building. Teams of officers were given packets with the warrants and in some cases, pictures of the people they were looking to arrest. A prayer by Powell Deputy Garland Lacy, who is also a local minister, preceded the officers’ departure from the courthouse.
Officers fanned out through out the county, catching their suspects by surprise. In one case a subject tried to crawl into his attic, but was found and brought in while still wearing slippers that looked like a bear’s head. Another subject was arrested and brought in on new charges, even though he was already under house arrest for another offense. That subject was still wearing the ankle bracelet he is required to wear while under home incarceration.
“It has been a good morning, we’ve done a lot here today,” Trooper Kenny Yarber said as he finished processing one of the arrestees. Trooper Yarber, Powell County Deputy Danny McCormick and Stanton Police Lieutenant Arthur Lacy helped to process the paperwork as suspect after suspect was brought into the courtroom. When asked how long the cases had been in the works, Trooper Yarber said, “We had one case that was from 2004, but the majority of them are fairly new and recent.”
Some of the arrestees have been in the news before. Nancy Fugate Wasson, 46 of Clay City, was arrested on July 3 and charged with trafficking in a controlled substance second degree and trafficking in a controlled substance third degree. She claimed that she was a notary public but was found to have $2,787 in cash on her at the time. During that arrest marijuana, Xanax and hydrocodone, which is a generic form of loritab was found in her home. That case is still pending. Wasson was just one of many who are no stranger to the court system.
“We did some good work today,” Powell County Sheriff Danny Rogers said. “We’ve been waiting for some of these warrants to come down to us,” Clay City Police Sgt. James Kirk added. “It’s good to be able to see our work is paying off.”
The Powell County Detention Center called in extra help to assist with the new inmates that were being added to their facility. “Right now it looks like we can house them all here,” Deputy Jailer Tina said as she processed and photographed those who were brought in during the roundup. Jail officials report that after the operation there were 148 prisoners in the facility. “That includes the RCC (Restrictive Custody Center) too. There are 106 in the main part of the jail,” Deputy Haddix said.
Due to the holidays, it may be after the first of year before some of those arrested in the roundup will be in court. Those who were arrested and jailed are (all bonds are full cash bonds):
Julius Combs, 70, Clay City, second degree trafficking in a controlled substance, $50,000 bond;
Danny Tharpe, 40, Clay City, first degree trafficking in a controlled substance, $50,000 bond;
Archie Utterback, II, 32, Clay City, second degree trafficking in a controlled substance, $75,000 bond;
Ramona Noland, 30, Stanton, fraud in receiving benefits from CFS, $12,800 bond;
Bruce McClure, 51, Clay City, three counts of first degree trafficking in a control substance, $95,000 bond;
Ladonna Blackwell, 22, Clay City, possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), $25,000 bond;
Tina Stamper, 46, Irvine, second degree trafficking in a controlled substance, $55,000 bond;
Theresha Barnes, 20, Stanton, first degree possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), $25,000 bond;
James Means, 51, Clay City, flagrant non-support, $4,500 bond;
Terry Don Tharpe, 28, Clay City, first degree trafficking in a controlled substance, $50,000 bond;
Tommy Haddix, 38, Clay City, possession of a controlled substance, $25,000 bond;
Nancy E. (Fugate) Wasson, 57, Clay City, second and third degree trafficking in unspecified drug, $95,000 bond;
Anthony Richardson, 26, Clay City, burglary second degree and theft by unlawful taking over $300, $30,000 bond;
Dwayne Mullins, 29, Clay City, burglary second degree and theft by unlawful taking, $30,000 bond;
Jamie Campbell, 28, Stanton, receiving stolen property over $300, $75,000 bond;
Anthony J. Townsend, 32, Stanton, receiving stolen property over $300, $75,000;
William C. Richardson, 33, Winchester, receiving stolen property over $300, $2,500;
Scottie L. McGuire, 33, Richmond, escape second degree, four counts of kidnapping and a persistent felony offender, $75,000;
Jeff Holder, 32, Stanton, two counts of first degree trafficking in a controlled substance, $50,000 bond;
Nick Durham, 20, Stanton, burglary second degree and theft by unlawful taking, $40,000 bond;
Joseph Paul Conner, 45, Clay City, failure to appear and flagrant non-support, No bond;
Kimberly Dunn, 34, Clay City, receiving stolen property on an Estill County warrant, No bond information available;
Billy G. Baisden, 28, Clay City, flagrant non-support, $10,000 bond;
Brenda McGuire, 43, Stanton, first degree trafficking in a controlled substance, $55,000 bond;
Darren Centers, 29, Clay City, DUI and driving on a suspended license, $25,000 bond;
Kaleb Smyth, 23, Clay City, failure to pay bench warrant on possession of marijuana, $362 bond;
Tyler Jones, 22, Stanton, burglary second degree and theft by unlawful taking, $40,000 bond.
Meadows sentenced to five years
By James Cook, Times Editor
For some it may have been a surprise, but for the family of Thelma J. “Sam” Meadows to was a form of closure. Powell County businessman Larry Meadows was sentenced to five years for the shooting death of his wife. Meadows and his attorney had hoped for probation, based on Meadows health conditions, but that was not to be.
Meadows, 65 of Clay City, was originally charged with murder. On Oct. 31, 2005, Meadows shot his wife during what has been described as “heated argument” at their home in downtown Clay City. At first Meadows claimed self defense, but back in September he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless homicide. The reduced charge is a Class D Felon y and carries a possible sentence of one to five years in prison. Special prosecutor, Tom Lockridge of Nicholasville informed the court at that time he would seek the full five years prison sentence. Meadows attorney, William K. Johnson of Mount Sterling also advised he would reserve the right to seek probation.
“Your honor, Mr. Meadows pled guilty, even though he first stated it was self defense, because he feels guilt of the result of what happened that day,” Johnson told the court before sentencing. “He feels guilty, wondering if there were any other ways to handle the situation that day.”
Johnson went on to tell the court that Meadows is considered a “peace loving man, well respected and well liked” and that he was also considered to be “passive.” But Johnson also made the court aware of Meadows’ medical conditions. “He has prostate cancer that is currently in remission and he has Type 1 diabetes, which he takes two shots a day for,” Johnson said. “In fact this morning, his reading, due to the tension and nervousness he has, was 312 and I understand that is bad. But I have his doctor here if the court would like to talk to him about Mr. Meadow’s condition.”
The prosecution only asked that the family of the victim, who were present, be allowed to address the court. Powell Circuit Judge Frank Fletcher agreed and allowed several members of the family express their thoughts. “Five years ain’t nothing for what he did, but I don’t want her daughters to have to go through a trial,” John Townsend, father of Thelma Meadows said. “My wife has been sick over this and just a heart attack not long ago, but she told me ten years ago that he (Meadows) would snap one of these days and kill her, maybe even her daughters. I guess she was right.”
Nora Tibbs, the victim’s sister, told the court that she felt she had lost a “wonderful person who will be and is sorely missed.” Tibbs, who has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Meadows, went on to say, “We don’t know why this happened and we’ve not heard him say he was sorry. What he did is wrong and he should be punished.” The family all agreed, however, that the five year deal was acceptable.
Judge Fletcher asked Meadows if he wanted to address the court before sentencing, but he declined. Lockridge did add that under the statutes as it pertains to probation that Meadows would not qualify under the last condition. “It says, under the last condition, that probation should not be considered if it depreciates the seriousness of the crime. The commonwealth believes probation would do that in this case,” Lockridge said.
Judge Fletcher recognized that Meadows is well loved and respected in the community. “I have received numerous letters regarding you,” Fletcher told Meadows and the court. “Your reputation in the community is excellent and the record indicates that this was an emotional type of homicide.” Meadows is best known as the curator of the Red River Museum. He also runs a golf course that he helped to start with his late father, Roscoe. Meadows mother was the famous nature artist Nellie Meadows, who passed away late last year.
“I don’t see anyway this court can grant probation in this case,” Fletcher said as the court room remained quiet. “The court has a balancing it has to do that is why we listened to the prosecution and the family and in recent cases, who have went to trial, have longer confinement that your case. To grant probation would be an injustice and therefore I sentence you to five years. The court has no alternative than to deny probation. I’m sorry; I have to go with the evidence.” Fletcher advised Johnson and Meadows that his health concerns could be met by the state’s correction department and their facilities. Johnson asked that Meadows diabetic medication be allowed to be brought to the jail and Fletcher granted that request.
Meadows was remanded into custody in the court room, as his family and friends slowly filed out of the court room. The victim’s family also slowly left the area, as Meadows was taken to the Powell County Detention Center.
“We got some closure. She (Thelma) was here with us today and here voice was heard,” Tibbs said outside the courthouse to print and television media outlets covering the case. “Justice was served,” Tibbs added.
Barnett asks for change of venue
By David J. Griffin, Times Reporter
It was supposed to be a status hearing, but a last minute motion to change venues was discussed last Wednesday as James H. “Jamie” Barnett was once again in the Powell Circuit Court. It was a move that has been anticipated since the tragic events involving the shooting death of Clay City Police Chief Randy Lacy. Barnett is charged with the murder of Chief Lacy, as well escape in the first degree and theft by unlawful taking of a firearm. Lacy had arrested Barnett for an alleged DUI just before the shooting occurred while on the way to the Powell County Detention Center.
The motion was filed by John Marcus Jones and Barbara Carnes, attorneys for Barnett, late last Tuesday. The motion asked for a change of venue “due to the overwhelming pretrial publicity relating to the size of the community.” The motion goes on to state that “media coverage has persisted and grown to include coverage of local events and tributes in honor of Chief Lacy. The coverage is not limited to local media. Chief Lacy was an extremely well liked and widely known law enforcement officer, and his story has been covered by national and international news agencies.” According to Jones the reasons for the venue change are clear. “Chief Lacy was extremely popular and his family is popular. It will be hard to find a pool of jurors who are not connected or know them and the same goes for Jamie, he is popular in Clay City,” Jones told the packed courtroom. “We believe that the commonwealth will be in agreement with a change.” Jones added.
Powell Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Lynn Herald pointed out to the court that the necessary affidavits that were to be filed with the motion were not present. Jones quickly responded, “It they are in agreement, then the affidavits are not necessary.” But Herald also had a quick answer. “We just got this faxed to us yesterday and have not had time to file a formal answer, but if the case were to be moved the statute is clear and where we need to look first,” Herald said. Herald also added, “We are not against a change of venue.”
Under Kentucky Revised Statute 452.210, “When a criminal or penal action is pending in any Circuit Court, the judge thereof shall, upon the application of the defendant or of the state, order the trial to be held in some adjacent county to which there is no valid objection, if it appears that the defendant or the state cannot have a fair trial in the county where the prosecution is pending. If the judge is satisfied that a fair trial cannot be had in an adjacent county, he may order the trial to be had in the most convenient county in which a fair trial can be had.” Under this statute if Powell Circuit Judge Frank Fletcher agrees that a fair trail can not be held in Powell County, then an adjacent county such as Wolfe or Breathitt, who are both in the 39th Judicial Circuit, would be possibilities.
However, if that were not agreeable to both sides, Judge Fletcher could then move the trial to a county that is agreeable and convenient to the parties involved. In years past high profile Powell County murder trials have been moved to Rowan County. The Todd Ice re-trial and the murder trial of Ralph Baze were both moved to Morehead, but some of the witnesses in those cases have not been pleased with the move to that area, including Baze. The convicted cop killer has even used the move to Morehead as a basis for one of his appeals, as he awaits a U.S. Supreme Court decision to see if Kentucky’s method of capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment.
Judge Fletcher advised both sides he would take the motion “under advisement” and allow the commonwealth to file a formal answer. Judge Fletcher has set a hearing on the motion to change venue for Jan. 23.
Barnett’s attorneys also had one more request for the court to hear during the court appearance. According to his attorneys, Barnett needs to be transported to Pathways Community Treatment Center in Mount Sterling to receive the proper mental health counseling he needs. “He is seen by a doctor at the jail (Montgomery County Detention Center), but that doctor will not prescribe antipsychotic or antidepressant medications, will he Jamie,” asked Carnes. Barnett nodded indicating no. “We have asked the jail to transport him, but they said it is not their job the KSP have to do it. So we need an order for them to transport him to Pathways” Barnes added.
Judge Fletcher was not quite convinced that a transport order was necessary. “I’m not sure if it’s KSP’s job or not, but this court is not willing to grant such an order,” Fletcher advised Carnes. “It’s because it’s a safety issue for everyone. Pathways is going to have to come to the jail for his treatment,” Fletcher said. “To transport him for treatment at this time is a risk for all involved. If Pathways can make it to the jail, that would be best.”
Barnett and his attorneys will back in the Powell Circuit Court on Jan. 23.