A Juneau grand jury handed up three more drug-related indictments on Friday, the latest in a rash that have targeted alleged local heroin and methamphetamine dealers.
The number of people that have been recently charged with knowingly delivering narcotics is now 14.
Court documents suggest the charges are in large part due to a single confidential informant, whose identity is being protected by prosecutors and police.
But despite efforts, the informant is still facing safety issues and receiving threats, Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp confirmed in an interview Tuesday.
During a bail hearing July 19, the mother of the one women accused of dealing drugs admitted under oath to threatening the informant via text messages as she was applying to be the third-party custodian for her daughter, Veronica M. Parks.
The mother said she sent messages such as, “end to a snitch,” and “they can’t protect you day and night.” She even asked Kemp at one point during cross-examination, “They are pretty threatening, don’t you think?”
Kemp ultimately ended her line of questioning abruptly once it became clear the mother could be facing charges herself. The mother explained her behavior by saying that she was “very upset” when she learned about her daughter’s arrest and she was being overly protective.
“I’m very protective, what can I say?” she said.
The mother elaborated that her daughter was not a “dangerous criminal,” but a “sick child.” She explained someone had brought her daughter heroin while she was in the hospital for using drugs, and she overdosed while still there.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg denied the mother’s request to be the third-party custodian, saying, “I guess I’ll be explicit. I think there’s at least an argument that she herself could be charged for interference with official proceedings for making threats against the informant in this case. Under no circumstance would I approve her as a third-party given those contacts that she have testified to.”
Court records suggest the informant has testified as a witness before grand juries in about 10 of the 14 cases. Kemp declined to say if the informant had criminal charges currently against him or her.
The latest indictments were issued against Wylie W. Guy, 25, Nicholas F. Cashen, 21, and Joni M. Land, 29.
Guy was indicted on two felony charges: third-degree drug misconduct for allegedly delivering methamphetamine on March 13, and attempted second-degree drug misconduct for taking a substantial step towards delivering heroin, also on March 13.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez also issued a $10,000 warrant for Guy’s arrest on Friday, according to court documents. His last known address is listed on Glacier Highway.
The Empire reported earlier that Guy was previously indicted in December for possessing heroin, a felony. He pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison with eight months suspended in March.
Cashen was indicted on one count of third-degree drug misconduct for allegedly delivering methamphetamine on April 11, according to the indictment.
That’s a class ‘B’ felony that can carry up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
A $10,000 warrant has also been issued for his arrest, court records show. His last known address is listed on Douglas Highway.
Land was indicted on two felony counts of third-degree drug misconduct for allegedly delivering methamphetamine on May 9 and 10.
Land was already in custody serving three years with one year suspended for perjury.
Kemp said Land lied about being the victim of an armed robbery last year when in fact her boyfriend was the victim. Kemp said Land lied because she and her boyfriend were ordered not to have contact with each other, but they were living together. When they were robbed, Land was at work, but told authorities she was held at gunpoint so her boyfriend wouldn’t get in trouble with his probation officer, Kemp said.
The truth came out the Friday before the Monday jury trial against the robber was slated to begin.
During that sentencing hearing in May, Kemp told the judge it was a “frightening and alarming” case, and that Land went at lengths to preserve the lie.
“This was a situation where Ms. Land elected to come to court during the grand jury proceedings and lie, provide false information to officers more than once throughout the investigation and then come into our office and continue to lie, and then make the judgment call that if called to testify the following Monday she would lie again at trial.”
Kemp went on to say that the lie hurts real victims of real crimes and causes the rest of people to lose faith in the system and judicial process.
“If the process breaks down because people are able to in large part get away with fabricating things as serious as had happened in this case, it is troubling at best, but a breakdown of the whole system,” Kemp said.
Land is scheduled to be arraigned on the new drug charges in Juneau District Court Wednesday.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.