Alleged death threat wrongly attributed to former Bullitt County - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Alleged death threat wrongly attributed to former Bullitt County special deputy, attorneys say

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The attorneys for former Bullitt County special deputy Chris Mattingly, who federal prosecutors say plotted to kill a local drug enforcement officer last year, said in court documents that investigators had scant evidence to back up this alleged threat.

In fact, after reviewing federal wiretaps, defense attorneys Brian Butler and Alex Dathorne wrote that an alleged threat prosecutors claim was made by Chris Mattingly was actually said by Mattingly's father, Leonard. Leonard Mattingly, 57, has not been charged with any crimes.

Federal prosecutors say Chris Mattingly is a major drug trafficker, with connections to a Mexican cartel, and is responsible for distributing drugs and large sums of cash across the country. He was indicted in September for conspiracy to distribute more than a ton of marijuana.

Prosecutors convinced a judge to keep Chris Mattingly locked up without bail in the Oldham County jail because he was a danger to the community -- most specifically to Capt. Mike Halbleib of the Bullitt County Sheriff's Department Drug Task Force. For months last year, Halbleib had "armed guards" at his home for protection because of threats made by Chris Mattingly, prosecutors have said.

But Butler and Dathorne said the death threat allegation doesn't hold up, pointing out that prosecutors were relying on the word of a sketchy informant and wiretaps that when scrutinized don't implicate their client. They are asking a judge to revisit the request to release Chris Mattingly on bail until his trial.

The defense points to a conversation caught on wiretap between Chris Mattingly and his father after deputies walked into a Bullitt County Chinese restaurant where the elder Mattingly was eating in February of last year.

Leonard Mattingly called his son to discuss whether these were the investigators Chris Mattingly believed were harassing him, according to Butler and Dathorne.

When Chris Mattingly says something about the deputies possibly putting handcuffs on his father, Leonard Mattingly replies "that would be the last handcuffs they would put on him," according to the motion.

Leonard Mattingly then allegedly told his son he "did not give a damn and would blow out their brains and say it was self-defense."

"What would they do?" Leonard Mattingly then asked his son, according to the records.

"Not a thing if they were dead," Chris Mattingly responded.

In September, prosecutors told Judge Colin Lindsay that it was Chris Mattingly who said: "I'll blow their brains out and say it was self-defense."

"The conversation when actually read states the opposite," Butler and Dathorne argue. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Butler and Dathorne also wrote that Leonard Mattingly told Bullitt County Sheriff Dave Greenwell that they had better not bother him or "it would get bloody."

"It is noteworthy that although Leonard is making these statements, apparently no one is concerned about his intentions," according to the motion.

Prosecutors have also claimed that an informant told them in April that Chris Mattingly had "indicated" he was going to kill Halbleib.

But Butler and Dathorne argue the informant is not credible and that investigators waited six months after getting that information to take Chris Mattingly into custody.

"The 'threat,' if we are to believe that it was even stated, could not have been serious given the passage of time," Butler and Dathorne wrote.

The attorneys have proposed Chris Mattingly be put on home incarceration with electronic monitoring.

Also among evidence released this week were search warrant affidavits in which Chris Mattingly is accused of operating as the head of a drug cell in Kentucky, coordinating with a cartel in Riverside, California.

The wiretaps recorded several conversations with Mattingly and his contact in Riverside, Ca., where the two discussed cockfighting and the delivery of money and drugs through a courier, according to the search warrants.

In one example of the wiretap evidence, prosecutors say Mattingly talked with his contact in California on March 17, 2014. Mattingly discussed cockfighting and the blades used for the fights. And Mattingly said his courier would come to California with money the next day.

The records include several stops of vehicles by the California Highway Patrol in which drugs -- often marijuana, heroin or methamphetamine -- and money were confiscated.

On October 19, 2014, investigators seized $250,000 from Barstow, California which originated from Mattingly's cell, according to records.

The records released also include references to Bullitt County resident Ronald Shewmaker, saying he was stopped by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department on May 4, 2014, in Perris, California. Investigators, acting on information obtained from wiretaps, seized about $420,000. Shewmaker was working as a courier for Mattingly, according to a federal affidavit.

Shewmaker has not been indicted. He has not returned messages seeking comment.

The cartel is accused of distributing narcotics to several states, including Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Kentucky. Drug enforcement agencies from St. Louis, Lexington, Louisville and areas in California have been investigating for years.  

Butler and Dathorne are also trying to suppress the wiretaps, claiming they were improperly obtained.

During at least part of the time Mattingly has been under investigation, he was serving as a special deputy to the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Department.

Special deputies are appointed by the sheriff and have the same powers as a regular deputy, with some exceptions, such as not being allowed to make arrests in domestic violence cases.

He worked as a special deputy in 2013 and 2014.

In reviewing court records, WDRB could not find that Mattingly made any arrests during the time he served as a special deputy.

Among the wiretap conversations, Mattingly spoke often with former Bullitt County Detective Lynn Hunt, according to court documents. The two discussed why investigators were looking into Mattingly. Mattingly repeatedly told Hunt he had done nothing wrong.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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