Alleged drug ring leader denied reduced bail on 7th try
The seventh time was not the charm for an Anchorage woman wanting reduced bail.
Monday, an Anchorage Superior Court judge rejected a reduced bail proposal for Melissa Knight, the alleged ringleader of a large-scale drug operation, in her seventh 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 proposed third party became the third candidate to be rejected in this case.
The first potential third-party was rejected after she told the court she uses marijuana and has trouble remembering things.
In March, the second was not approved after the state alluded to the fact that the third-party candidate was listed in the evidence backing their case.
And James England, who volunteered Monday to supervise Knight 24/7, was determined to be "too close" to the case, as his sister and mother are Knight's co-defendants.
"In my judgment, based on the foregoing record, Mr. England is too close to the people and the facts that are an issue in this matter. In my view, I think that Mr. England is too susceptible to manipulation for a variety of reasons. And although there are no charges pending against him, there were key items that, in my judgment, at least peripherally indicates he had at least some knowledge, if not participation, in criminal activity," said Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Corey.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt questioned England about a police report which claims he was found to have a meth pipe on his person and pointed to other suspicious behavior observed and noted by APD.
While Gary Soberay, defending Knight, argued that if England were involved in illegal activities, he too would be charged in the case.
Judge Corey said he was not completely satisfied with England's answers to Bergt's questions, and rejected him as a third party.
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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