A drug case originating from a 2015 traffic stop, which led to federal charges against 18 individuals, is wrapping up, as final sentencing for many of the suspects will be held over the next two months.
The case began in July 2015 when Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Officer Chris King observed a vehicle turn onto a Forest Service access road. Due to the large amount of illegal ginseng harvesting taking place at that time, the officer followed the vehicle to investigate.
When the two subjects in the vehicle spotted the officer, they reportedly turned and fled. Officer King began a pursuit, finally stopping the truck on Baptizing Hole Road.
A large quantity of methamphetamine and other paraphernalia, as well as handguns, were seized, and the case was taken over by the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force.
The LCADTF investigation focused on the driver of the vehicle, Steven Green, of McCreary County. A few months later, using confidential informants, Green was arrested in Pulaski County after an attempted controlled buy of methamphetamine.
Through interviews with Green, the suspect admitted to officers he was regularly supplied methamphetamine to sell by Scotty Watson and Joyce Good (AKA Joyce Watson).
Working with the federal agents, members of the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department, Kentucky State Police and U.S. Forest Service assisted with the investigation, gathering information and providing local resources.
The investigation led to a raid at Watson and Good’s residence in December that year, where weapons, over $5,000 in cash and more than 11 ounces of methamphetamine were seized.
During their interviews with authorities, the couple admitted to acquiring methamphetamine from a source in Georgia every couple weeks, and distributing to others locally for sale.
In January Watson, Good, Green, along with Steven Murphy, Garra Kidd, Jordyn Perry and Anthony Murphy were named in a 16-count federal indictment alleging they were involved in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Additional gun charges were levied against many of those named in the original indictment.
As the investigation and court proceedings continued, several additional names were added to the indictment, including Michael Birchfield, Jerry Gibson, John Slaten, Michael Daugherty, Paul Good, Jennifer Swain, Stacey Stout, Melvin Steele, and Carley D. Perry Jr.
Gregory Hutchinson and Aileen Strunk were not indicted as part of the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, but were included on the document for other charges.
Hutchinson was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Strunk was charged with making false statements to a federal agent.
In all, a total of 18 individuals were named on the indictment and all faced federal charges – most of them concerning the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine locally.
“This is a prime example of local agencies working together to pool their knowledge, resources and manpower to eliminate a large drug distribution ring,” Sheriff Randy Waters said.
“The Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force helped bring federal charges against some big suppliers of drugs in McCreary County and their associates. Their agents, along with myself and members of my department, the State Police and U.S. Forest Service put in a lot of hours together to pull this case together.”
“Hopefully this will send a strong message that we will not tolerate this kind of activity here in McCreary County.”
Court records show all but one of the individuals named in the federal indictment have accepted plea deals, and some are already serving time for their involvement in the case.
Green has pled guilty to the conspiracy and possession of handgun charges and was sentenced to 211 months in prison.
Joyce Good pled guilty to conspiracy charges and is serving 113 months, with an 8-year supervised release after completion of her sentence and agreed to forfeiture of property.
Steven Murphy accepted a plea deal and is serving 102 months.
Jerry Gibson’s plea has him serving 60 months.
Carley D. Perry pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms by a convicted felon charges and was sentenced to 106 months.
Other suspects have also entered pleas and are awaiting sentencing:
Scotty Watson: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms by unlawful drug user – to be sentenced on May 24.
Garra Kidd: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms by a convicted felon – to be sentenced on May 24.
Jordyn Perry: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of unregistered firearms – to be sentenced in July.
Anthony Murphy: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms by a convicted felon – to be sentenced in July.
Michael Birchfield: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine – to be sentenced in June.
John Slaten: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine – to be sentenced in August.
Jennifer Swain: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine – to be sentenced in July.
Stacey Stout: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine – to be sentenced in July.
Micheal Daugherty: possession of firearms by unlawful drug user – to be sentenced in June.
Paul Good: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine – to be sentenced in November.
Gregory Hutchinson entered a guilty plea to a charge of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and is scheduled for sentencing in July.
Aileen Strunk pled guilty to a count of making a false statement to a federal agent and is scheduled for a July 12 sentencing.
One other suspect in the case, Melvin Steele, has a court date in June for possible trial.
Until sentencing is complete the final outcome of the case for some of the individuals named can be subject to change.