Two Somerset, Ky., men accused of possessing about 125 pounds of cocaine at the time of a traffic stop last month in Hempstead County, Ark., will remain free while their cases proceed, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Johnnie Adams, 37, and Curtis Troxtle, 33, appeared Friday morning for detention hearings before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant in Texarkana's downtown federal courthouse.
Both men are named in a criminal complaint pending in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas.
At a joint detention for the two defendants Friday morning, Texarkana lawyer Cory Floyd called Troxtle's fiance to testify. Kirsten Raisor described her future spouse as a loving father and hard worker, touting his 14-year stretch of employment with U.P.S. Raisor denied any knowledge of Troxtle's and Adams' alleged drug trafficking, under cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Jones. Other members of Troxtle's family audibly sobbed during the hearing.
Members of Johnnie Adams' family were present in court as well and gave testimony under questioning by Little Rock lawyer John Wesley Hall. Johnnie Adams' wife, Beth Adams, testified that she was unaware that her husband of 13 years was using his private plane to ferry drugs from south Texas to Michigan, as he is accused of doing on multiple occasions.
Johnnie Adams' mother, Kim Adams, testified that her son is popular in their community of approximately 11,000, that he owns and operates a business installing cabinets and granite counters.
In closing remarks at the hearing, Floyd emphasized Troxtle's life-long status as a resident of Somerset, his lack of prior felony convictions and his compliance with a Kentucky court tasked with addressing a past driving while intoxicated arrest. Hall too focused on Adams' deep ties to Somerset, his status as a small business owner/employer and willingness to surrender his pilot's license and passport.
Jones reminded the court that the charges facing the men "are not your average drug case," as he spoke of the 56 kilos of cocaine retrieved from a rented SUV as it passed Oct. 29 through Hempstead County, Ark. Jones lamented that the absence of prior felony convictions for the men simply shows "they've never been caught before," and described them as "experienced drug traffickers."
Jones argued that classifying the men's alleged conduct as a "mistake" as their family members did overlooks the planned and calculated nature of the alleged conduct. Jones said it is likely the men will be indicted for an offense for which there is a mandatory minimum 10-year prison term.
Ultimately Bryant granted both men release. They will be supervised by U.S. Probation officials based in London, Ky., a town about half an hour from Somerset. Each man must wear a GPS leg monitor and restrictions on their travel were imposed. Adams was warned not to fly an aircraft while his case is pending and the co-defendants were told they may not have contact with one another.
The men were riding in a rented Ford Explorer when stopped by Arkansas State Police Trooper Bernard Pettit for following too closely behind an 18-wheeler in the eastbound lane of Interstate 30 about 4:30 p.m. Oct. 29 near the 26 mile marker, according to the complaint used to create the following account.
Adams was riding in the passenger seat and showed Pettit a copy of a car rental contract on his phone that showed he had rented the Explorer earlier that day in Alexandria, La.
While both men allegedly claimed their trip was altered by Adams' private plane breaking down in Louisiana, the men gave different accounts of their travel. Troxtle allegedly told Pettit that the men had flown together in Adams' private plane from their home state of Kentucky to vacation in Corpus Christi, Texas, before breaking down in Louisiana. Adams allegedly claimed the men had flown from Kentucky to Shreveport, La. for vacation, and had never stopped in Texas, according to the complaint.
The conflicting accounts led Pettit to ask Adams for permission to search the Explorer, which Adams declined to give. A Nevada County, Ark., Sheriff's Office canine alerted to the odor of narcotics coming from the car while performing a free air search. After Pettit informed the men that the dog's behavior gave them the probable cause needed to search the Explorer, Adams allegedly said, "We are mules and the car is loaded," according to the complaint.
A black hard-backed suitcase containing 32 packages of suspected cocaine was found along with a Nike duffle bag containing another 24 packages of suspected cocaine. Each of the packages weighed approximately 2.2 pounds. A sample from one of the packages allegedly field tested positively for cocaine, according to the complaint.
Two pistols were also found inside the Explorer. Adams allegedly showed officers a Kentucky concealed carry license and claimed one of the weapons belongs to him. When interviewed later by a Drug Enforcement Agency special agent, the men allegedly confessed that they were in the process of transporting the drugs from south Texas, to Detroit, Mich., and that the second pistol found in the car was part of their delivery.
Adams allegedly told investigators that he expected to be paid $75,000 and that he intended to pay Troxtle $15,000. A federal grand jury is expected to consider the case in the next few weeks.