The last of 11 defendants charged in one of the state’s largest indoor marijuana grow operations pled guilty last week in United States District Court before Chief Judge Thomas B. Russell, to manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance, money laundering and possession of firearms by a convicted felon, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.
According to information presented in court, Dallas Norris, age 70, of Barren County, and 10 co-defendants operated a sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operation, considered by Kentucky State Police to be one of the largest of its kind discovered in the Western District of Kentucky. An initial tip to KSP led troopers to Norris’s Glasgow home, where they discovered 1,267 marijuana plants on November 12, 2011.
“The successful prosecution of this multi-defendant drug production and distribution organization was made possible by a collaborative law enforcement approach,” stated Hale. “We are grateful for the good work of the State Police, AFT and Warren County Drug Task Force. As drug organizations become more sophisticated and often more brazen, we will rely on effective cooperation between federal and state authorities to protect the public and prosecute the offenders. Our communities are safer as a result of these efforts.”
“Kentucky State Police is committed to combating the marijuana drug trade,” says Rodney Brewer, KSP Commissioner. “These enterprises have no limits and further fuel other illicit criminal organizations and their violence.”
The investigation by KSP, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Warren County Drug Task Force revealed that the grow became operational in 2008 and had been producing seven to ten pounds of marijuana approximately every two weeks. Court records allege that Norris was selling the marijuana for $2,500 to $3,000 per pound and that he had taken elaborate measures to avoid detection of his operation including: illegally tapping the local power company main line to power the grow; and pumping and purifying cave water located on the property to water the extensive grow operation.
According to the plea agreement, between February 1, 2011 and November 12, 2011, Norris was the leader of the conspiracy involving 10 co-defendants and others to manufacture over 1,000 marijuana plants at premises maintained by Norris for the purpose of manufacturing, storing and distributing marijuana.
Between February 28, 2008 and March 12, 2008, Norris structured three transactions with financial institutions by purchasing three cashier’s checks each in the amount of $9,000. Norris used the cashier’s checks and an additional personal payment of $6,114 to purchase a 2006 Ford truck. Norris admitted to structuring these transactions to evade bank reporting requirements.
At the time of his arrest, a convicted felon, based upon his previous conviction for manufacturing marijuana, was in possession of two firearms.
The 10 co-defendants, charged in a May 16, 2012 federal superseding indictment, have pled guilty for their roles in the conspiracy and await sentencing. The defendants are Josephine Polan of Flagler Beech, Florida; Roger L. Goheen, Shelli Goheen and Dennis Cain Goheen of Wellston, Ohio; Darryl G. Newsome, Kimberly Newsome, and Darryl Allen Newsome of Springfield, Ohio; Vanessa Golden of Covington, Kentucky; and Gary and Victoria Kampschaefer of Louisville, Kentucky.
At sentencing, Norris faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, supervised release of five years, and a fine of $21,500.00. Norris will forfeit to the United States, a 2006 Ford F-250 truck, property located in Barren County, Kentucky and Jackson County, Ohio, $22,621.00 U.S. currency, and miscellaneous farm equipment and collectibles.
All defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on March 5, 2013, before Senior Judge Russell in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mac Shannon and was investigated by KSP, ATF and the Warren County Drug Task Force.
A Glasgow federal tax return preparer pled guilty last week before Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr. in Bowling Green, to charges of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.
On April 11, 2012, a Bowling Green grand jury returned a 35-count indictment against Greg P. Denham, age 47, alleging he knowingly assisted in the preparation of materially false tax returns. The returns were filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
In court, Denham pled guilty to all 35 counts of the indictment and admitted that between February 2006 and May 2009, he prepared individual income tax returns for other individuals that misrepresented and under reported taxes owed by these taxpayers.
The returns were prepared for tax years 2005 through 2008.
The indictment alleges that the returns in question claimed business expenses that Denham knew the taxpayers did not actually incur, or that were not actual business expenses.
At sentencing, Denham faces no more than three years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a term of one year supervised release on each count. Chief Judge McKinley set a sentencing date for February 14, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. in Bowling Green.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Weiser and was investigated by the IRS, Division of Criminal Investigation.
One property owner has stepped forward and paid the back assessed taxes issued in late August as the state worked through an investigation of the local property assessor’s office. Meanwhile, hundreds of appeals have been filed with the state board of equalization by other property owners issued back assessments in the same investigation.
Owners of Putnam Properties, which owned 10 of the 197 properties identified by state investigators as being incorrectly assessed, came forward in October and paid the back assessed tax amount. However, the owners admitted no fault or wrong doing in the matter. That property owner told county officials he simply wished to avoid the appeals process.
In August, officials from the state Comptroller’s office identified 197 properties in Putnam County that they say had been excessively depreciated for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 tax years, accounting for $896,000 in county property tax revenue. The back assessments came just as former assessor of property Rhonda Chaffin left office and Travis Roberts was named to the seat.
State law allows for officials to go back three years to collect the taxes, and property owners were charged penalty and interest for the properties.
Property owners had 60 days from the date that the back assessments were issued to appeal to the state board of equalization. Many of the properties were commercial or rental properties owned by only a handful of individuals.
According to the state board’s online database, many of the property owners have filed an appeal.
Among those were appeals filed on 11 properties owned by Michael Gaw, appeals filed on four properties owned by Paul Gaw, appeals on 31 properties owned by Jerry C. Gaw, an appeal on one property owned by Family Tree Properties, appeals filed on two properties owned by Fountain Court Inc., appeals filed on two properties owned by Market Square Inc., appeals filed on one property owned by Liberty Square Inc., appeals filed on one property owned by Harold Jackson, appeals filed on two properties owned by Donna Darlene Gaw, appeals filed on four properties owned by Eddie Gaw, appeals filed on six properties owned by Harold Gaw, appeals on eight properties owned by Shirley Gaw, appeals filed on 17 properties owned by G and H Partnership, appeals filed on 10 properties owned by Roy Gaw, and 72 appeals filed on properties owned by Charles Soard.
The properties did not collect penalty and interest during the appeal process, state officials said.
If an adjustment is made to an assessment during the appeal process, the adjustment will affect both the city and county taxes due on the property.
The state also issued a number of reassessments for the 2012 tax year, but to date no appeals on those have been filed.
The state does charge property owners a fee for each parcel of property appealed. Those fees are based on the value of the property in question and begin at $22 for property valued less than $100,000 up to $67 for properties valued at $400,000 or more.
No hearings by the state board had been set for the appeals as of last Wednesday, November 28.
A Cookeville man who hitched a ride last week got arrested over what police found in his backpack after the car was stopped for veering over the highway’s center line.
Allegedly, Daniel Francis Brennan, 43, of Gwen Road, Cookeville, had a meth lab in the backpack, says a report by Putnam Sheriff’s Deputy Trevor Barrett.
The deputy said that on the evening of November 25 he saw a vehicle on Burgess Falls Road traveling along the highway center line.
He followed the vehicle for a time and again observed it veering onto the center line, this time on Burgess School Road.
He stopped the vehicle and found Daniel Francis Brennan to be the passenger.
“The driver advised that the passenger had been picked up hitchhiking on S. Willow Ave.,” says a warrant on file in the case.
After obtaining the driver’s permission, the deputy searched the vehicle and found a backpack, which contained ammonia nitrate, lighter fluid, drain cleaner crystals, nail polish remover, a turkey baster, pool test kit, six ounces of clear liquid which tested positive for ephedrine, and “an unknown amber liquid, all of which are commonly used to initiate the methamphetamine process,” the warrant says.
After determining that the backpack belonged to Brennan, the deputy arrested him.
Cookeville Police Officer Michael Herrick assisted deputies with the case, and his report says Brennan was charged with initiation of meth manufacture and that his bond was set at $100,000 because at the time of his arrest, he was free on bond in connection with “another manufacturing charge.”
Brennan has a December 17 court date.
In another case, Sheriff’s Investigator Jacob Byrd, of the Drug Task Force, arrested a CC Camp Road man on meth charges on November 21.
Allegedly, Jonathan Ryan Justice, 23, had meth lab components in his grandmother’s home.
The investigator said he went to the residence after receiving a tip alleging that “drug activity” was occurring there. He was accompanied by Cookeville Police Officers Jamie McCurry and Sgt. James Harris.
They obtained permission to search the house and a nearby shed and allegedly found “a large cardboard tube containing multiple components needed to make meth,” says Byrd’s report.
At this point, the investigator called in two more officers, Deputies Roy Phipps and Devin Brown, and also summoned the city fire department in the case of fire or explosion from meth ingredients.
Allegedly, they found “open lithium batteries, two lithium strips, three one-pots, coffee filters, and a brown powder substance” in the house and shed, according to a warrant on file.
Allegedly, Jonathan Justice told the officers that he was “not the one cooking the meth” and that it was “two of his friends who were coming over cooking it and he was present while they cooked the meth but did not know what to do with all the stuff,” Byrd’s report says.
Justice was booked into the Putnam jail where his bond was set at $15,000. He has a December 10 court date.