Pubdate: Tue, 08 Apr 2003
Source: Daily Independent, The (KY)
Copyright: 2003 The Daily Independent, Inc.
Author: Kenneth Hart
Note: Ben Fields, Independent news writer, contributed information to this 


GRAYSON - Grayson's former police chief on Monday pleaded not guilty to a 
felony charge stemming from the theft of prescription drugs from the 
department's property room.

Greg Wilburn, 39, of Stinson Road, was charged with one count of tampering 
with physical evidence, a Class D felony, in a criminal information handed 
up in Carter Circuit Court.

If he is convicted, Wilburn - who also chaired the board of directors of 
the FIVCO Area Drug Enforcement Task Force - could be sentenced to up to 
five years in prison.

The charge against the former chief was the culmination of a nearly 
year-long investigation by the Kentucky State Police. It began after the 
drugs - being held as evidence in the Labor Day 2001 robbery of the Grayson 
Rite Aid store - disappeared from the property room.

About 2,000 pills were taken from the room, located in the Grayson 
municipal building, Commonwealth's Attorney David Flatt said. Among them 
were various painkillers, including OxyContin, Lorcet and Percocet, and 
anti-depressants, including Xanax and Valium.

Authorities did not find any evidence linking Wilburn to illegal 
prescription drug trafficking, Flatt said.

"We found no evidence that any of these drugs hit the streets," he said.

According to Flatt, Wilburn was the only member of the police department 
who had access to the property room.

"He had appointed himself evidence officer and he had the only key that 
we've been able to locate," he said.

The drugs were discovered missing June 13 after Circuit Judge Samuel Long 
issued a court order, at Flatt's request, directing the police department 
to bring the drugs to court so they could be returned to Rite Aid. The 
department failed to do so.

The next day, Long issued a search warrant for the property room. The KSP 
served it that same day and seized the contents of the room.

Investigators found a number of bottles that had previously contained 
prescription drugs had been tampered with, Flatt said. The foil seals on 
the mouths of the bottles had been pulled back, the pills removed and 
replaced with over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, and the 
seals glued back in place, he said.

Wilburn - sporting a goatee and dressed in a denim shirt and jeans - 
appeared briefly in court Monday amid heavy security. He left the 
courthouse without commenting.

Wilburn's attorney, Bob Miller, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A criminal information, which carries essentially the same force as a grand 
jury indictment, is a formal accusation of a crime.

By appearing in court voluntarily to plead to the information, Wilburn was 
able to avoid arrest and therefore is not subject to bond, Flatt said. 
However, he would be subject to arrest if he fails to show up for any of 
his court appearances, he said.

Long scheduled a pre-trial conference for June 16.

Wilburn - a former Marine who joined the police department in the mid-1980s 
- - resigned as chief Sept. 17, citing "prolonged and continuing medical 
complications and concerns." He had been on sick leave since mid-June. 
Assistant Chief Keith Hill was promoted to chief by the city council to 
replace Wilburn.

The council also responded to the disappearance of the drugs by passing a 
measure in July tightening control of the property room.

Russell Mayor Don Fraley was elected last year to replace Wilburn as 
chairman of the FADE board.

Flatt, a member and former chairman of that board, said he did not believe 
the multi-county drug task force had been compromised by Wilburn's alleged 
misdeeds. He said Wilburn's position with the task force was "strictly an 
administrative one."

Fraley agreed, saying there was no way Wilburn could have affected any of 
the cases worked by the task force.

"He had no responsibilities and was not in any position of oversight. He 
was never in a position with FADE that would require him to come into 
contact with any evidence," he said.

Fraley said the only FADE members who come into contact with evidence 
gathered on raids are staff who do not work for other law enforcement agencies.

He said FADE would assist with any ongoing investigation into the 
allegations against Wilburn.

"We are going to let this take its course, and we'll assist in any way we 
can," Fraley said.

Authorities do not suspect anyone else was involved in the theft of the 
drugs, Flatt said.

The drugs taken from the property room were among about 6,000 doses of 
prescription medication taken from Rite Aid in the Sept. 2, 2001, robbery. 
Ryan A. Moore of Ashland and Thadd M. Ward of Flatwoods both pleaded guilty 
to charges stemming from the holdup. The two were arrested after police 
interrupted the robbery.

Moore was sentenced to eight years in prison, while Ward received a 
three-year sentence.
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