By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Four of the nine people listed on a multi-count federal indictment made their initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram in U.S. District Court in London Wednesday.
Christopher Wayne Cassidy, 26, Michael Scott Creech, 29, Amy Elizabeth Johnson, 28, and Eric Tyler McNeil, 27, all waived formal arraignment and entered “not guilty” pleas through their attorneys.
Three other suspects sought by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives turned themselves in Tuesday, according to George Huffman, ATF public information officer. They were Katherine L. Crook, 42, Jessica L. Napier, 31, and Justin Barton, 28, and all three will have their first appearance in federal court this afternoon.
The other two named in the indictment, William C. Rains and Debra M. Cassidy, were already in jail on state charges. Rains is jailed in Laurel County and Debra Cassidy is in Leslie County, according to Huffman.
The four suspects appearing Wednesday were arrested in Corbin Tuesday.
McNeil is represented by attorney Willis G. Coffey, from Mount Vernon. Cassidy’s attorney is Andrew M. Stephens, from Lexington. Johnson is represented by attorney R. Michael Murphy, also from Lexington. Creech’s attorney is James Hibbard, from London.
During court proceedings Wednesday, Ingram reminded the four defendants of their “right to remain silent,” and that what was said “could be used against you” during court.
All four of the above-named attorneys were officially appointed to represent their clients by Ingram. “Everyone has a very good attorney in this case,” Ingram said.
Ingram then read the parts of the indictment which pertained to the suspects in court, as well as potential sentences if those suspects were found guilty.
Just for the first count on the indictment, which charges all nine suspects did conspire to intentionally manufacture 500 grams or more of a substance that contained meth, each defendant could face between 10 years and life in prison, a $10 million fine, and no less than five years of supervised probation.
And that’s if there were no prior drug convictions.
All defendants are named in the six-count federal indictment filed April 25, and each face charges of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine in Knox, Laurel and Whitley counties between January 2009 and March 2013.
Christopher Cassidy also faces two counts related to the possession of firearms while using meth and while trafficking the drug.
Crook and Napier are each charged with possessing meth with the intent to distribute the drug. Also, Napier is charged with possessing firearms while unlawfully using a drug.
McNeil is charged with possessing meth with the intent to distribute the drug.
The indictment calls for the forfeiture of three guns from Christopher Cassidy and five guns from Napier.
Court documents indicate Rains is to be arraigned Tuesday, May 23, in London’s U.S. District Court.
Ingram did schedule a trial date for July 8 during Wednesday’s proceedings; however, no formal decisions about bond were discussed.
McNeil and Johnson are scheduled for their detention hearings Friday, while Creech and Christopher Cassidy are scheduled for their detention hearings May 8.
The arrests were made by the ATF along with the U.S. Forest Service Two Rivers Drug Task Force with assistance from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the Corbin Police Department and the Kentucky State Police.