Pubdate: Tue, 24 Dec 2002
Source: Big Sandy News, The (KY)
Copyright: 2002 The Big Sandy News
Author: Susan Allen


PRESTONSBURG - Kentucky State Police are investigating the alleged 
destruction of several thousand prescription narcotics by Martin City 
police chief Jeff Powell without a court order. KSP public affairs officer 
Scott Hopkins said Monday police will determine whether Powell committed 
any wrongdoing or if there was any misconduct by the chief in the handling 
of the evidence in the drug case. On Friday, Floyd Circuit Judge John David 
Caudill ordered state police to take control of any drug evidence being 
held by the city police department or any seized in the future, saying he 
doubted Powell's "competency." "I have grave, grave, grave concerns about 
Mr. Powell's department," Judge Caudill said. "To be quite frank, I have 
grave concerns about Mr. Powell's competency as a police officer and I'm 
giving him the benefit of the doubt." Caudill said that in order to 
"protect the public," he was directing state police to "immediately" take 
possession of any narcotics held by the Martin Police Department. The judge 
seemed skeptical about Powell's statements that he destroyed 2,867 
narcotics, which included OxyContin, Lorcet, Xanax and Percocet, which were 
stolen during a burglary of a Martin pharmacy. "I've thought about this and 
I'm still upset if, in fact, these drugs were destroyed without a court 
order," Caudill said. On Dec. 13, Caudill was to have signed a destruction 
order for pills after Matthew Perkins pleaded guilty this year to robbing 
the pharmacy.

Two days before the order was to have been signed, Powell informed 
Commonwealth's Attorney Brent Turner he had already disposed of the 
evidence. Powell appeared before Caudill last Wednesday and was to have 
explained why the pills were purportedly destroyed, but Caudill instead 
ordered Powell back to court Friday with an attorney because of possible 
criminal ramifications related to the incident.

The judge told Powell on Wednesday to be prepared to say how he disposed of 
each individual pill. Attorney Clyde Johnson appeared before the judge with 
Powell on Friday and Caudill said he did not think it would be appropriate 
to take any testimony from Powell because he didn't "think this is the 
place for that." Caudill said there were other methods to determine how 
that happened, and after Friday's court appearance, Turner said it "appears 
there is an investigation pending into this." Johnson said after Powell's 
appearance that he provided Turner with a statement from the police chief 
explaining Powell's actions and proving the evidence was destroyed.

Johnson said Martin Mayor Thomasine Robinson witnessed the pills being 
"deposited in the city of Martin's septic system." Since the statement 
given to Turner could become part of the state police investigation into 
the incident, Turner declined to say what was in it. Robinson was 
reportedly out of town Christmas shopping Friday and could not be reached 
to see if Caudill's statements would have any effect on Powell's position.

She was expected to appear in court Friday to say what she had witnessed. 
Johnson stressed that Powell has not been charged with any crime and was 
not under indictment. Powell was previously chastised by the court when the 
department "lost" drug evidence in another case, which resulted in charges 
being dismissed. Johnson said he could not address that issue because he 
wasn't a party to that incident. Powell declined to comment when asked if 
he wanted to say anything about the situation. "No, not at this time," the 
chief said.

Caudill told Powell people will be watching his future actions. "I'm not 
your employer, the city of Martin is," Caudill said. "I want them to know, 
as a person and resident of Martin, I have absolutely no faith in your 
competency...Mr. Powell, the court will be watching you."
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