Posted: May 03, 2017 2:47 PM EST Updated: May 04, 2017 11:21 AM EST
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Bullitt County Sheriff Dave Greenwell was indicted in federal court Tuesday on five charges, including obstructing an investigation and aiding a special deputy in his department who sought to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
The indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court Wednesday.
Greenwell was arrested and appeared in federal court Wednesday. Among other charges, he is accused of “arranging a secret meeting” and informing a special deputy identified as “C.M.” that he was the subject of a narcotics investigation and giving him the names of a potential witnesses.
Greenwell also allegedly told C.M that his business was under surveillance and provided information that investigators had obtained under wire tapping, according to the indictment.
Greenwell pleaded not guilty to all charges, said his attorney, Scott C. Cox. “There are serious charges and I look forward to contesting them,” Cox said.
While “C.M.” is not identified, a former Bullitt County Sheriff’s special deputy named Chris Mattingly pleaded guilty last year to being part of a drug cell in Kentucky that had ties to Mexico and distributed drugs and large sums of cash across the country.
Greenwell resigned from the department on Feb. 28 amid allegations of misconduct, ending his letter or retirement with, “P.S. Jesus knows!”
If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum life sentence.
Former Bullitt County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy John Cottrell, who was second in command of the department, filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was fired by Greenwell after revealing that Greenwell was involved in criminal activity.
Cottrell was indicted by a Bullitt County grand jury in March on felony forgery charges.
In the lawsuit, Cottrell claims he and two subordinates in the department investigated Greenwell and “revealed that the Sheriff is involved in serious criminal activity.”
Over the last two years, Cottrell said he reported alleged mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse of authority and illegal activity by Greenwell, according to the lawsuit.
Garry Adams, Cottrell’s attorney, said in a statement that Greenwell’s indictment is “not just the beginning of the former Sheriff’s criminal prosecution but also the beginning of the vindication of my client for being wrongfully terminated as Chief Deputy of Bullitt County and then prosecuted in retaliation for providing assistance and/or blowing the whistle on his former boss.”
The lawsuit did not provide details on the alleged criminal activity.
Capt. Mike Halbleib and Det. Tim Murphy, who work in the department’s drug task force, assisted in the investigation of Greenwell, according to the suit.
Greenwell has denied any wrongdoing.
In addition, Greenwell recently gave a deposition in the case of Lynn Hunt, a former detective with the sheriff’s department who has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
In January, Greenwell was forced to testify in Hunt’s civil case, questioned as to whether he had any improper contact with Mattingly during a federal investigation accusing Mattingly of being the head of a major drug cell in Kentucky with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.
Mattingly has pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiring to distribute more than a ton of marijuana and methamphetamine.
“While this federal investigation was ongoing, did you ever have conversations with Chris or Leonard Mattingly regarding the investigation?” asked Mike Moulton, Hunt’s attorney, according to a video of the deposition.
Carol Pettit, Greenwell’s attorney stepped in, “Objection, he’s not answering.” Greenwell then testified, “I’m not answering.”
The investigation into Mattingly started in 2014 when he was heard talking on a federal wiretap of a California cartel. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April.
The Mattingly family owns Mattingly’s Used Cars on Old State Highway 245 in Bullitt County. The house next door is owned by Greenwell.
Moulton asked Greenwell, “Your son bought a car from the Mattingly’s in September of 2015. Are you aware of that?”
Greenwell responded, “Am I aware my son bought one? Yes.”
Moulton asked, “In September of 2015.” Greenwell said “Yes.”
“Was the criminal investigation going on still?” Moulton asked. Greenwell responded, “The criminal investigation, yes it was going on.”
Hunt filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Greenwell in 2015. Her termination letter says she was fired for violating department policies.
“You state that she was insubordinate continuing a relationship with a known target of a federal drug investigation, after being advised the subject was the target of a criminal investigation,” Moulton asked Greenwell. “Who was that individual?”
“Chris and Leonard Mattingly,” Greenwell testified. Leonard is Chris Mattingly’s father and hasn’t been charged with any crime.
Hunt was heard on wiretaps talking to Chris Mattingly, but she says she wasn’t tipping him off to any investigation.
Greenwell’s indictment also accuses him of arranging a secret meeting with L.M., giving him the names of three potential government witnesses.
If convicted, Greenwell could be sentenced to no less than ten years and up to a life sentence and fine of $11 million.