|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Assault complaint leads deputies to drugs, money
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — What began Saturday night as an attempt to conduct a follow-up interview in connection with an assault complaint ended with the seizure of well over $9,000 in cash and a large amount of crack and powder cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Sgt. William Jerry of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office went to a residence in the 100 block of Hefner Ave. to interview the occupants of that residents about an earlier assault before beginning what was intended to be a focused patrol for intoxicated drivers with this reporter onboard his patrol unit. When he knocked on the door, the occupants opened it and he noticed a strong odor of burnt marijuana. He instructed the three people inside — Amber Dion Gardner, Anthony Early Thomas and Joseph Jerard Franklin — to exit the house. Sgt. Jerry explained that a wrecker driver who had come to the residence on another day in an attempt to repossess a vehicle had been hit in the face by a black male who then got in the vehicle and drove away. However, the deputy explained that since there were strong indications that the occupants had been using marijuana at the time he arrived, he had probable cause to obtain a search warrant, call narcotics investigators to the residence and search the house. Sgt. Jerry took photos of Thomas and Franklin and as he spoke with the two men, Thomas admitted he had struck the wrecker driver. Sgt. Jerry called for an additional unit to come to the Hefner Avenue residence. Sgt. Phillip Waller, Cpl. Billy Duke and Deputy Craig Taylor joined him at the location. Jerry asked the occupants if there was anyone else inside the house or if officers were going to find any illegal drugs inside. Thomas admitted he had marijuana in his bedroom. Gardner said she had a prior problem with drugs and was on probation. A routine check of driver’s licenses showed that Gardner had outstanding warrants for her arrest and she was taken into custody. Thomas and Franklin were detained while officers made a preliminary search to ensure no one else was in the residence. Det. Richard Delaney and Narcotics Lt. Andy Lowrie sought and obtained a search warrant from Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace David G. Johnson. During the search, several cars were circling the residence in Wiggins Ridge, repeatedly forcing deputies to interrupt the search and stop the motorists, identify them and ask why they were driving passed the house. When Sgt. Waller spotted one driver, Michael Willis, tossing items out of his car window, deputies ordered him out of the vehicle. He did get out of the car, but left it in gear and running and attempted to move away from the residence on foot. He was stopped and placed in handcuffs on the hood of his vehicle. When asked why he was coming to the residence, the 52-year-old responded that he was coming over to play on the Playstation. A search of his vehicle and the contents of his pockets yielded only an empty beer can and just under $9.50 in cash. Willis was charged with resisting arrest, search or transport and driving while license invalid. As of Tuesday, he remained in the Polk County Jail in lieu of a $5,000 bond. The search of the residence yielded a large amount of cocaine in an Igloo cooler found in the kitchen area of the home as well as several drug paraphernalia items. As of press time, detectives had not been able to determine the exact weight of the seized narcotics since they were subpoenaed for court appearances and called out on other cases. They also found more than $9,000 in cash in the home. Officials will initiate seizure proceedings to prevent that money from being returned to the occupants. When Amber Gardner arrived at the Polk County Jail, a search of her clothing revealed hydrocodone, methamphetamine and marijuana, resulting in three additional felony charges of prohibited substance in a correctional facility alcohol/ drug/phone/tobacco. Gardner is being held in lieu of bonds totaling $90,000 in addition to fines for two previous charges for no driver’s license and failure to signal turn. Bail has been set for Anthony Thomas at $52,500. Joseph Franklin was released Monday on $50,000 bond.