Former Clerk Pleads Guilty to Leaking Information About Drug-trafficking Investigation
Six More Defendants Among 26 to Plead Guilty
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former employee of the Boone County Clerk’s Office has pleaded guilty in federal court to leaking information about a drug-trafficking investigation. She is among six more defendants who recently pleaded guilty to their roles in a large-scale conspiracy to distribute cocaine in Boone County, Mo.
Christin Sledd, 25, of Columbia, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth on April 29, 2016, to using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking conspiracy. The father of her child, Ryan Montez Kee, 29, of Columbia, pleaded guilty today to the same charge.
Four additional defendants recently pleaded guilty. Michael Earl Hunt, also known as “Mike Deuce,” 35, of Columbia, pleaded guilty on April 28, 2016 to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Courtney Lashea Thornton, 35, of Columbia, and Ronald Elwood Brown, 40, of Sturgeon, Mo., each pleaded guilty on April 26, 2016, to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Kenneth Scott, Jr., 26, of Columbia, pleaded guilty on April 26, 2016, to using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
All but one of the 27 defendants charged in this case now have pleaded guilty. The only remaining defendant, Marlon Laron Smith, 35, of Murphysboro, Ill., is a fugitive.
Sledd worked at the Boone County Clerk’s Office in July and August 2014. As a clerk in the Criminal Division, she had access to confidential information, including the fact that search warrants were applied for and signed by judges.
Sledd learned at approximately 2:45 p.m. on Aug. 1, 2014, that a judge had signed a search warrant for a residence on Coats Street. She called Kee, who then passed along the information. Co-conspirators believed the search warrant was for the residence used by co-defendant Rodney Wayne Arnold, also known as “Rodney O.,” 32, of Columbia to store cocaine.
Law enforcement investigators recorded a phone call at 2:58 p.m. the same day in which co-defendant Malcolm Desean Redmon, also known as “Harp,” 32, of Columbia, was warned in advance about the search warrant. The caller urged Redmon to warn Arnold that the police were preparing to “kick his house in.” Redmon said that he would warn Arnold. Both Redmon and Arnold have pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
The caller indicated that Kee was his source for the information, and said that his source got the information from an employee at the clerk’s office.
For law enforcement officers’ safety, execution of the search warrant was called off once the person monitoring the interceptions heard the conversations and notified the task force that the search warrant had been compromised.
Scott admitted that he knew his father and co-conspirator, Kenneth Scott, Sr., 47, of Columbia, was in the business of distributing cocaine and that he conspired with many individuals to distribute cocaine. One of the ways which Scott, Sr. would get cocaine to his customers was to arrange to have a key left in a car or truck, and once the customer had ordered and paid for the cocaine, the customer was told where the key was located. The customer could then use the key on the car or truck they were directed to, and pick up the cocaine.
By pleading guilty, Scott, Jr. admitted that he received a phone call from his father, who instructed him to get a key and hide it in the back of a truck so that a person could pick it up and use it. Scott, Jr. also admitted that, after he complied with his father’s request to hide the key, he called him on the phone to confirm that he had hidden the key in the truck in a gum box.
Hunt, Thornton and Brown admitted that they participated in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine in Boone County from November 2011 to August 2014.
Under federal statutes, Sledd, Kee and Scott are each subject to a sentence of up to four years in federal prison without parole. Brown is subject to a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison without parole. Hunt and Thornton are each subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, MUSTANG (the Mid-Missouri Unified Strike Team and Narcotics Group), the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Boone County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.