- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Attorneys for a defendant in a huge drug trafficking case involving an alleged plot to kill a Bullitt County detective have asked to throw out evidence obtained by a wiretap.

The Courier-Journal reports (https://cjky.it/1RV9q8t ) Christopher Mattingly is a former special deputy with the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office charged with conspiring to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, and money laundering.

According to the government, the Kentucky case began in December 2013 when informants told a Bullitt detective that Mattingly headed an extensive drug organization with ties to Mexican cartels.

A few months later, the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested one of Mattingly’s associatesin California. They found $418,930 hidden in secret compartments of a black Chevrolet Malibu registered to Mattingly Auto Sales.

DEA agents, using wiretaps approved in California, then recorded conversations between a California target and Mattingly. He was arrested in September.



Mattingly’s lawyers say the wiretap used to collect evidence against him was obtained illegally through a rubber-stamp process that did not consider whether it was truly necessary. The California judge who signed the wiretap order churned out 20 percent of the wiretaps approved nationwide in 2014. Attorneys also claim the wiretap was not properly requested by a prosecutor.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Fentress argues in court papers that even if the wiretaps were deficient, it doesn’t mean evidence obtained from them should be suppressed.

Mattingly’s lawyers are also asking that he be released from jail pending trial. In persuading the judge to detain him, Fentress said Mattingly had been plotting to kill the Bullitt County Drug Task Force captain who led the investigation of him.

Mattingly’s attorneys say his remarks were taken out of context, and they note he has not been charged in connection with the alleged murder plot.

State prosecutors in San Bernadino, California, already have dropped a money laundering case in which $800,000 in cash was seized from a jewelry store because of the same wiretap issues in Mattingly’s case. The suspects, who went free, are now trying to get their money back.

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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