LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A jury made up of nine women and three men, along with two alternates, have heard the federal case against former Bullitt County Sheriff Dave Greenwell since Monday.
And on Thursday evening, they made a decision. Greenwell was found not guilty on all five counts.
When the judge read the verdict, some in the courtroom gasped. Others cried, including Greenwell and his wife. The two embraced and prayed together after hearing "not guilty" five times.
"It's just incredible and such a wonderful feeling when the truth does come out after so much suffering over the last couple of years, not just for myself but from my family," an emotional Greenwell said later. "I have a lot of faith in God, and I pray a lot and just give Him thanks."
Greenwell was charged with obstructing an investigation and helping former Bullitt County Special Deputy Chris Mattingly continue his massive drug business.
The jury started deliberating around 1 p.m. Thursday, and the result came down to four things: whether Greenwell helped Mattingly by alerting him of the federal investigation, by giving him federal wire tap transcripts and by confirming a pole camera at his auto business to monitor drug activity.
Prosecutors say Greenwell also gave Mattingly's father, Leonard, information about potential witnesses while they were in the basement of Greenwell's home, passing notes in the dark and then throwing them in the fire. Prosecutors talked about a secret meeting at Bernheim Forest, where Greenwell told the Mattingly's not to bring their phones, claiming they talked about the investigation.
Federal Prosecutor Stephanie Zimdahl said Greenwell "put politics ahead of justice ... because it would hurt him if his friends and neighbors went down."
But Greenwell's attorneys say Greenwell never gave the Mattinglys any information they didn't already know, and Greenwell didn't disclose witness information.
"The sheriff never intentionally did anything to hinder the investigation against the Mattinglys down in Bullitt County," one of Greenwell's attorneys, Scott C. Cox, said after the legal victory. "In fact, the proof is exactly to the opposite. He did everything to bring them to justice."
It all started in 2014 when federal investigators were listening to wiretaps that led to a traffic stop in California. Mattingly's associate was arrested and had about $420,000 in cash vacuum-sealed in compartments of a car. Mattingly told the jury that was his money meant to pay for marijuana.
"Mattingly got a break of a lifetime," Rob Eggert, another of Greenwell's attorneys, said. "[Greenwell's] taking the weight that Mattingly never took."
Greenwell faced a minimum 10-year prison sentence for charges including aiding and abetting and obstructing an investigation. Ten years or more is what Mattingly faced, but instead, he took a plea deal, cooperating with the government to testify against Greenwell and others for a three-year sentence.
Greenwell, with an arm around his wife, walked from the federal courthouse Thursday night after a long few days in court. He told WDRB News he never plans to become Bullitt County's sheriff again.
"If they can do it to you once, they can do it to you twice," Greenwell said of the government. "So at this time, I don't ever see any politics in my future."
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