Reduced bail denied again for leader of alleged drug ring
Monday, a judge denied a reduced bail application for Melissa Knight, the alleged ringleader of a large-scale drug operation, in her sixth bail hearing since her November arrest.
Anchorage prosecutors say Knight organized and ran a sweeping heroin and methamphetamine ring, which Anchorage Police spent nearly two years investigating.
Knight is one of eight suspects named in a November 14 grand jury indictment:
- 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.
The latest bail request sought to reduce the amount to $1000 with a third-party custodian, but the state alluded to the fact that the proposed third party is listed in the evidence backing their case.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt produced a five-inch binder full of text messages and said it includes some messaged received by and sent to a number the third party admitted used to be hers.
When Bergt asked if she would like to consult with an attorney before questioned about the text messages, which appear to "cover the topic of drug exchanges, drug purchases," the woman answered, "Yes, I would."
Immediately upon hearing that response, Judge Michael Wolverton said, "Alright, I'm going to deny the application."
This was the second defense attempt at presenting an appropriate third-party custodian for Knight. The first potential third party was rejected after she told the court she uses marijuana and has trouble remembering things.
Because Knight's case is a 2017 case, the State's new pretrial risk assessment tool is not being used in determining her release.
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