Pill ring earns organized crime status

By Katheran Wasson Published:

A Frankfort man charged with organized crime planned and financed road trips to Florida for prescription pills, a detective said in court testimony Tuesday.

Detective Matt Brown, speaking on behalf of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said 36-year-old Neil Clark was “ringleader” of the trips, which may have involved as many as 15 people over the course of several trips. Clark sold the pills after they arrived in Frankfort, Brown said.

Clark was arrested Sept. 3 after detectives say he financed an excursion to Florida for three people, spending $9,500 on their gas, food, lodging and prescriptions, Brown said in testimony.

Clark suggested a hotel, and gave them the name of a doctor who would prescribe pills, Brown said. The three people – two men and one woman – left Kentucky Aug. 23 and returned Sept. 2 with Xanax and Percocet, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office collected the information through an informant, who recorded conversations with Clark. Brown says Clark’s name has come up “numerous times” in complaints and tips since March.

Clark appeared in Franklin District Court Tuesday with his attorney David Guarnieri, who said his client plans to “defend himself vigorously” against the charges.

Guarnieri questioned the charge of engaging in organized crime, saying he’d only seen it once before in his career. He said the people involved in the trips to Florida are addicts seeking pills, not profits.

County Attorney Rick Sparks told The State Journal that Clark was charged with engaging in organized crime because of the complexity of the drug trafficking operation.

According to state law, it is illegal to organize or fund a criminal syndicate – five or more people collaborating to commit the crimes of drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution or human trafficking, theft, gambling or loan sharking.

Two or more people who work together to steal retail merchandise and resell it are also considered a criminal syndicate.
Engaging in organized crime is a Class B felony, which carries a penalty of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Clark is lodged in the Franklin County Regional Jail. Judge Chris Olds set his bond at $100,000 full cash – he previously had no bond.

Clark, of 1112 Maverick Trail, was charged with trafficking in marijuana in 2004 and trafficking in cocaine in 1999. The charges were dismissed, according to records.

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