Alleged leader of drug ring requesting reduced bail again
During her fifth bail hearing since her November arrest, the alleged ringleader of a large-scale drug operation is requesting reduced bail conditions so she can be released pending trial.
Anchorage prosecutors say Melissa Knight organized and ran a sweeping heroin and methamphetamine ring, which Anchorage Police spent nearly two years investigating.
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
Of the 45 counts listed in the indictment, Knight faces the most serious charge: first-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance criminal enterprise, which carries a punishment range of up to 99 years in prison.
That’s a charge the Anchorage District Attorney'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 it remains untouched by Senate Bill 91.
Knight's bail conditions currently include $25,000 cash and a court-approved third-party custodian. A new request seeks to reduce the amount to $1,000 with a third-party custodian, but the potential third party was not in court during the time of the hearing.
Knight's defense attorney requested the judge release Knight on her own recognizance (OR), citing her longtime Alaska residence and a lack of serious recent criminal history saying, "OR is warranted here for someone who's never been in trouble before-- at least not since 1992."
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt opposed that request.
"I understand that that's harsh, but that's the law," Bergt argued in court, "There is no basis for OR release unless you're going to make findings that she doesn't present a risk of flight or that she doesn't present a risk to the public, and we know based on the evidence and the strength of the evidence in this case that Ms. Knight is a prolific drug dealer. That constitutes a risk to the public."
The judge denied the request for OR release but said the court will consider the proposal of a new third party.
Knight's bail hearing will resume Monday.
Because Knight's case is a 2017 case, the State's new pretrial risk assessment tool is not being used to determine her release.
If convicted, Knight faces up to 99 years in prison.
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