Judge dismisses felony charges against former second in command of Bullitt County Sheriff's Department
Judge Rodney Burress dismissed the charges against John Cottrell after a special prosecutor failed to show up for court on a motion to dismiss the case filed by defense attorney Garry Adams.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – A Bullitt County Circuit Court judge Monday dismissed felony forgery charges against former Chief Sheriff’s Deputy John Cottrell, who was second in command of the department.
Judge Rodney Burress dropped the charges after a special prosecutor failed to show up for court on a motion to dismiss the case filed by defense attorney Garry Adams.
In an interview, Adams said he filed the motion after the prosecution repeatedly failed to turn over evidence in the case, despite an order from Burress last month compelling prosecutors to do so.
Terry Geohegan, commonwealth’s attorney for Hart, Larue and Nelson counties, had filed a motion with the court claiming the sheriff’s department had not turned over the requested evidence to his office. That motion was also supposed to be heard on Monday.
Geohegan did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. He can ask Burress to reconsider his decision in the next 10 days.
“I was seeking the documentation from the sheriff’s department to appropriately defend my client and prove he did nothing wrong, and it was documentation that I did not receive,” said Adams.
Chief Deputy Mike Cook, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said that this is the first he has heard about the office not turning over evidence, and “I find that hard to believe.”
He said he would look into the issue further.
The indictment alleged that in June 2014 and March 2015, Cottrell was in possession of fake Bullitt County Sheriff's Office identification badges with the names Natasha Kamari and Natasha Parrish. He is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument.
Cottrell was fired in October for for being “absent without leave,” according to a termination letter written by former Sheriff David Greenwell.
The termination letter does not specify how much time Cottrell missed. It alleges Cottrell violated the department’s conduct standards – “absence from duty.”
The department has said that Cottrell was also under investigation for allegedly forging a deputy identification badge for his girlfriend in June 2014.
The girlfriend allegedly worked off duty at several places using the badge, according to a synopsis of the investigation, obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act. The businesses were led to believe the woman was a deputy, according to records. The woman was never hired by the department. She has not been charged.
Cottrell told WDRB previously hat the allegations were "a joke. They are trying to muddy the waters to what the actual problem is and that's them."
Cottrell had been with the sheriff’s department since January 2011. Before that, he worked for the Pioneer Village Police Department, according to LinkedIn.
Cottrell has filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was fired after revealing that Greenwell was involved in criminal activity.
In the suit, Cottrell claims he was wrongfully terminated Oct. 5 while out on medical leave by Greenwell as retaliation for taking part in a criminal investigation against the sheriff.
Cottrell claims he and two subordinates in the department investigated Greenwell and “revealed that the Sheriff is involved in serious criminal activity.”
Greenwell was indicted in federal court in May on five charges, including obstructing an investigation and aiding a special deputy in his department who sought to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
Among other charges, he is accused of "arranging a secret meeting" and informing a special deputy identified as “C.M.” that he was the subject of a narcotics investigation and giving him the names of a potential witnesses.
Greenwell also allegedly told C.M that his business was under surveillance and provided information that investigators had obtained under wire tapping, according to the indictment.
Greenwell has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
While "C.M." is not identified, a former Bullitt County Sheriff's special deputy named Chris Mattingly pleaded guilty last year to being part of a drug cell in Kentucky that had ties to Mexico and distributed drugs and large sums of cash across the country.
Greenwell resigned from the department on Feb. 28 amid allegations of misconduct, ending his letter or retirement with, "P.S. Jesus knows!"
If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum life sentence.
Over the last two years, Cottrell said he reported alleged mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse of authority and illegal activity by Greenwell, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit did not provide details on the alleged criminal activity.
Capt. Mike Halbleib and Det. Tim Murphy, who work in the department’s drug task force, assisted in the investigation of Greenwell, according to the suit.
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