Former Bullitt County special deputy, two others scheduled to pl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Former Bullitt County special deputy, two others scheduled to plead guilty to federal drug charges

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Former Bullitt County special deputy Chris Mattingly and two other men are scheduled to plead guilty to federal drug charges that alleged they were part of a drug cell in Kentucky which had ties to Mexico and distributed drugs and large sums of cash across the country.

Mattingly, Ronald Shewmaker and Eddie Whitfill informed U.S. District Court Judge David Hale this week that they would waive their right to trial and plead guilty on Nov. 16, according to court documents.

Frank Mascagni, an attorney for Whitfill, said the men are expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than a ton of marijuana.

However, attorneys say the plea deals are not final as some of the terms, including possible prison sentences, have not yet been agreed upon.

"We have come to a tentative agreement that it would be best for all parties if we can resolve this,” said Patrick Renn, Shewmaker’s attorney. "But whether everybody pleads (guilty) on that date, I don’t know."

Brian Butler, an attorney for Mattingly, would only say that "we are in discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s office in attempts to reach a resolution."

In July, Hale denied a motion by the attorneys to throw out key wiretap evidence. Attorneys say settlement negotiations have been ongoing for several weeks. 

Investigators had also accused Mattingly of plotting to kill Capt. Mike Halbleib of the Bullitt County Drug Task Force, which has been leading the investigation.

Mattingly is alleged to be head of a drug cell in Bullitt County while Shewmaker, was accused of being a money courier and Whitfill the caretaker of a Breckinridge County farm where Mattingly raised and sold chickens.

The investigation into Mattingly started more than 2,200 miles away when he surfaced in 2014 talking on a wiretap investigators had on the cartel in Riverside.

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.  

Police have seized hundreds of thousands of dollars they claim are linked to Mattingly.

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.

Shewmaker was stopped by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department on May 4, 2014, in Perris, Calif. Investigators, acting on information obtained from wiretaps, seized about $420,000.

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, the department has said.

Mattingly's badge was taken after he was pulled over in September 2014 by Halbleib, several drug task force members, a Louisville Metro Police Department narcotics detective and other officers, according to court documents and interviews. Mattingly was stopped at Preston Highway and Grade Lane in Louisville on Sept. 4, 2014, for speeding and failing to use turn signals, court records show.

Mattingly showed officers his Bullitt County Special Deputy Badge and called Sheriff Dave Greenwell during the stop, attempting to verify he was a deputy, according to a summary of the incident in court records.

While he was on the phone with Greenwell, Mattingly repeatedly attempted to have LMPD Det. Chris Sanders talk with the sheriff, according to court records.

For months last year, Halbleib had "armed guards" at his home for protection because of threats made by Mattingly, prosecutors have said. Mattingly has not been charged with threatening Halbleib.

Copyright 2016  WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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