The night shelter manager of the Glory Hole was arrested Tuesday evening after law enforcement allegedly intercepted a package containing heroin inside a Mr. Potato Head figure that was headed for the downtown shelter.
Stephen Morton Dabney, 61, was charged with second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, a class ‘A’ felony that can carry up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
According to a Wednesday morning statement from the Juneau Police Department, “Officers of the Juneau Police Department and Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs (SEACAD) along with FBI and Postal agents intercepted and then did a controlled delivery of heroin at about 1:00 pm (sic) yesterday afternoon. The package was delivered to the 200 block of S. Franklin Street.”
Dabney appeared in Juneau District Court before Deputy Magistrate Sharon Heidersdorf on Wednesday afternoon for his arraignment.
Dabney told the judge he lives in an apartment at the Glory Hole where he volunteers as the night shelter manager, and he collects Social Security disability money. The judge found he qualified for court-appointed representation, and appointed the Public Defender Agency to represent him.
Assistant public defender Timothy Ayer told the judge there are questions as to whether Dabney knew what was in the package, and he requested bail to be set at $10,000 cash. Ayer said Dabney does not appear to have a criminal history in the state of Alaska.
Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams requested bail to be set at $20,000 cash total, $10,000 as a cash performance bond, and $10,000 as a cash appearance bond.
Williams told the judge Dabney admitted to receiving more than one package, that he received “a significant amount” of heroin — about an ounce — and that he poses a flight risk.
Heidersdorf set bail at $10,000 cash, $5,000 as a cash performance and $5,000 as a cash appearance, and set a preliminary hearing for Feb. 3 before Judge Keith Levy.
According to an affidavit filed by Williams on Tuesday, the process leading to his arrest began on Monday when a U.S. Postal Inspector from Anchorage contacted JPD about a suspicious package addressed to Dabney at the Glory Hole’s address. The inspector told police Dabney had received other packages at the same address, and in the past, someone matching his physical description had followed the Postal Service courier to retrieve packages just before they were delivered to the address.
The inspector obtained a federal search warrant to allow her to open the package this time, and allegedly found a Mr. Potato Head toy with about one ounce of heroin inside.
The inspector also told police a man had followed a postal courier on Monday, and someone had contacted the post office asking about the whereabouts of the package.
On Tuesday, JPD and Postal Inspector agents conducted a controlled delivery with the intercepted package. The package was outfitted with a beacon transmitter that emits a signal if and when the package has been opened. An inspector obtained another federal search warrant allowing retrieval of the package after the beacon activated, or a minimum of two hours had passed.
A mail inspector delivered the package to the reception area of the Glory Hole at about 1:05 p.m. Tuesday, and after a few minutes later, officers observed a man take the package upstairs to Dabney. Officers could see Dabney in the rear, upper window on the back side of the Glory Hole, “carefully examining the exterior of the package over an extended period of time,” the affidavit stated.
Dabney allegedly set the package down on a table, then extended a mirror out of the same window, “as if to conduct surveillance on areas outside the window which he could not see,” the affidavit said.
Officers finally contacted Dabney inside an apartment on the top floor of the Glory Hole, and Dabney told them the parcel was in the hallway, which officers located. Dabney told them the parcel was for someone named Kyle, and that he does not know Kyle, nor does Kyle know him.
“Dabney stated that he received other parcels from Kyle and that he did not know what the contents of this package were, but the previous ones had contained toy cars,” the affidavit read. “Dabney stated he did not know why someone he doesn’t know would be sending him toys.”
Officers then found a label from an earlier package addressed to Dabney inside a trash can in the administrative office area of the Glory Hole.
“The parcel label was nearly identical to the controlled delivery parcel, including the same sender, Kyle Nelson,” Williams wrote.
A JPD Drug Enforcement Unit officer then obtained a search warrant for Dabney’s apartment, and they found $897 in cash, various documents including what appeared to be drug ledgers, drug paraphernalia including a cooking spoon, syringes, marijuana pipes, cotton balls and looters, firearms, a case for a digital scale, 10 cell phones and two laptop computers, according to the affidavit.
Glory Hole Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk said Dabney will be banned from the premises for life, and that he will no longer be able to receive housing or assistance from the local soup kitchen and shelter.
“Of course the Glory Hole has a no tolerance policy for drugs for anybody who is at the Glory Hole,” Lovishchuk said, adding, “We are fully cooperating with the law enforcement.”
Lovishchuk said she was extremely grateful for the local law enforcement action in this matter, and said there’s been an ongoing effort to work with the community on resolving chronic drug and alcohol abuse.
Lovishchuk, who has been at the Glory Hole for about three years now, said she could not recall another instance when drugs were found at the shelter since her time as the director.
Lovishchuk said in a phone interview Tuesday evening Dabney was a volunteer, not a paid employee, who lived at the shelter. She said his duties were signing and checking people into the shelter, that he has been a volunteer there for the past three years, and that he is a former electrician who had a debilitating work-related accident.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.