Suspected drug ring leader denied reduced bail
The alleged leader of a large-scale drug operation will stay incarcerated for the time being.
Anchorage prosecutors say Melissa Knight organized and ran a sweeping heroin and methamphetamine ring which Anchorage Police spent nearly two years investigating.
According to Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen’s office, the suspects named in a November 14 grand jury indictment include:
- Melissa Knight
- Courtney Renee Tweedy-Pederson
- Thomas Flammini
- Christopher Gowen
- Daniel Carstens
- Natasha Knight
- Mona Galliher
- Patricia England
Galliher and England remain at large. Police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said in an email that Galliher "is known to change her hair color frequently."
Seizures in the case, which stemmed from December 2015 heroin purchases by an undercover APD officer, have been made from seven locations. They included over 200 grams of meth and 300 grams of heroin, 1.3 kilograms of marijuana and nearly $200,000 in cash. Hundreds of prescription pills including hydromorphone, oxycodone and Xanax were seized as well.
Of the 45 counts listed in the indictment, Knight faces the most serious charge: first-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, which carries a punishment range of up to 99 years in prison.
That’s a charge the Anchorage DA’s office hasn’t prosecuted in eight to 10 years. It’s an unclassified felony, meaning it’s legally on par with murder and rape charges and remains untouched by SB91.
Monday, Knight's attorney argued for a reduced bail amount, pointing out that as police served search warrants over the course of several months, she never ran away and shouldn't be considered a flight risk.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt, who is prosecuting the case, told the judge while that might be true, Knight's knowledge of the investigation didn't deter her from continuing to run an illicit business.
Bergt referenced text messages in APD's possession that show Knight was "chastising" her co-defendants when she could see through a camera surveillance system they were not answering the door to potential customers.
"From the State's perspective, Miss Knight is a threat to public safety," Bergt said. "How many lives were impacted by her activities? How many theft crimes? How many violent crimes, or lives otherwise affected by drug use that came either directly or indirectly from Miss Knight?"
The judge denied the request to reduce bail but said he will reconsider if Knight can present a suitable third-party custodian.
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