The Richmond Register

May 23, 2013

Court hearing reveals errors in trafficking case’s investigative file

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — A discrepancy in police records led to an unusual hearing in a drug trafficking case Thursday in Madison Circuit Court.

The attorney for 49-year-old Carla Rae Clontz made a motion earlier this month for a bill of particulars hearing. Both the prosecution and defense attorneys had noticed problems with the file numbers in Clontz’ case, and there also were different reports of the number of pills sheriff’s deputies allege were found in her home.

A Madison grand jury indicted Clontz in December on two counts of first-degree trafficking in controlled substance (subsequent offense, Class C felony), first-degree trafficking in controlled substance (subsequent offense, Class B felony), third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, trafficking in marijuana (less than 8 ounces) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputies executed a search warrant Sept. 18 on Clontz’s residence at 545 Mount Vernon Road in Berea. The investigation stemmed from complaints about suspected drug trafficking at the home, the sheriff’s office reported.

Assisted by the Berea Police Department, officers found Oxycodone, methadone and Xanax tablets   that have a street value of $11,000, according to the sheriff’s department. Marijuana also was found, deputies reported.

The sheriff’s department also reported Clontz confessed to drug trafficking in an interview that day.

Defense attorney Wes Browne asked for the hearing because the number of pills reported in evidence log did not match what the search warrant return listed. A return is a list of what is seized from a searched site that must be filed with the circuit clerk’s office.

Detective Jason Parker testified at the hearing. He said that the probable cause for the search warrant was established when a confidential informant purchased five narcotic pills from Clontz, which was videotaped.

The informant, however, took one of the pills before he left the house. Browne said that because of this, investigators had “lost control” of the pills, and asked the detective if it was possible the informant exchanged the pills before he turned them over to law enforcement.

“I don’t know how that is possible,” Parker said, adding that informants are searched before and after the videotaped “controlled buys.”

One of the first problems with the case records was Clontz’ name had been attached to an investigation that did not involve her.

Parker said another detective, Jasper White, accidentally put Clontz’ name on the paperwork with some drug evidence that was sent to the Kentucky State Police lab. That case actually involved another person, who was not charged.

“(Clontz) has nothing to do with that case …,” Parker said. “Her name was put on by mistake.”

The other discrepancy involved the pill count. Two similar types of pills were reportedly found in Clontz’ home — 56 light blue pills and 69.5 blue pills. Parker said Detective White had added those two together to get 125.5, and wrote that amount down as the total amount of blue pills. Then the 56 light blue pills were added again to the total.

This mathematical error resulted in a higher count than what police said they found in the search warrant return, according to Parker.

In all, Parker said the correct count for the pills allegedly found in Clontz’ home was 78 Zanax, 63 Percocet, 88 Percocet (different dosage), 56 light blue pills, 69.5 blue pills, 20 codeine and five methadone. The total is 379.5 pills.

The difference in the pill count does not change the level of the charges against Clontz, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith.

However, Browne made a point during the hearing to emphasize recording mistakes made during the investigation.

Clontz has been free on bond since Sept. 27. No future court date has been scheduled yet in her case.