Two veteran detectives in an East Tennessee police department — including the police chief’s brother — are among four people indicted in a drug conspiracy and money laundering case, authorities announced Wednesday.
Newport Police Department Detective Capt. James Finley Holt, 59, allegedly was at the center of the criminal ring, selling prescription pills from his patrol cruiser while on duty, and trading drugs for stolen goods that he then used to stock the Newport convenience store he ran with his wife and son, according to court records.
Detective Capt. Roger Lynn Shults, 54, the older brother of Newport Police Chief Maurice Shults, also is named in the indictment returned by a special-called Cocke County grand jury Wednesday.
“The conduct giving rise to these charges is an embarrassment to the city of Newport, to Cocke County and to law enforcement in general,” said 4th Judicial District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn. “The very people entrusted with upholding the law are now charged with violating it.”
Holt is charged with 10 counts of official misconduct, eight counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and five counts of sale and delivery of a controlled substance, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Roger Shults is accused of participating in the conspiracy to a lesser extent. He was indicted on four counts of official misconduct and one county of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Holt’s wife, Kathy Holt, 50, and son, Kenneth Trece Myers, also are named in the indictment as well. Kathy Holt, a Newport alderwoman, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.
The 31-year-old Myers faces one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Additionally, James Holt faces federal charges in U.S. District Court of illegal distribution of drugs and possession of a firearm in the furtherance of drug trafficking, according to U.S. Attorney Bill Killian’s office.
The criminal complaint filed in the federal case details numerous instances in which Holt traded hydrocodone and Xanax pills for stolen goods supplied by a confidential informant who was working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The stolen items — including cartons of cigarettes, candy bars, beef jerky and Harley-Davidson gear — later were sold at the “Pit Stop” Mobil gas station, 405 Cosby Highway, run by James Holt and his family. On other occasions, the complain reads, James Holt sold the pills to the informant for cash, and accepted stolen goods to pay down the outstanding debt of the informant’s girlfriend.
(WBIR) The first of four suspects accused in a drug conspiracy case in Cocke County appeared in federal court Thursday.
A grand jury indicted Newport Police Captain James Holt on several federal charges related to money laundering. Officials also arrested Holt’s wife, Kathy, who is Newport alderwoman. Kathy Holt’s son, Kenny Myers, and Newport Police Captain Roger Lynn Shults are also facing charges.
James Holt appeared in federal court in Greeneville Thursday morning. The hearing dealt with just the federal charges, which include distributing hydrocodone in May 2014 and possessing a firearm while committing that crime. If convicted, Holt could spend up to 20 years in prison for the first count with an additional mandatory five years to life for the second charge.
Newport Police Chief Maurice Shults said the department suspended both Holt and Roger Lynn Shults without pay.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said James Holt, who is a detective, sold drugs in exchange for items he knew were stolen, according to court documents.
TBI agents said this exchange happened from his police car where he was carrying a gun. He then sold the stolen merchandise as new at his wife’s gas station, according to the TBI.
FBI and TBI agents searched the Pitstop Mobil Mart off Cosby Highway and got search warrants for the Newport Police Department.
The other people charged in the money laundering case only face state charges. James Holt also faces money laundering and official misconduct charges in state court.
TBI said the investigation took several months, and it’s still looking into the case. Cocke County is no stranger to corruption. Just eight years ago, the Los Angeles Times dubbed Cocke County as “Little Chicago.” The nickname stems from a five-year investigation called Operation Rose Thorn, which began in 2001.
Over a seven-year period, the investigation led to 48 arrests on federal charges, including the arrests of seven officers from the Newport Police Department and county sheriff’s department. Charges ranged from money laundering, theft, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and trafficking stolen goods.
Another 170 people faced charges for cockfighting, gambling, and illegal liquor.
Cocke County Sheriff D.C. Ramsey resigned during that investigation, citing health reasons.