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The case against Enrique Olvera-Landaverde continues to perplex us. In fact, we don’t know if there is a case against Mr. Olvera-Landaverde. This all reads to us like lawyers run amok in a John Grisham novel.
If Mr. Olvera-Landaverde’s name does not ring familiar, you may recall that this is the man arrested when county and state police, operating on a tip from Mr. Olvera-Landaverde’s wife, raided his home near Southville in 2010 and collected nearly 800 pounds of marijuana and $60,000 in cash.
At the time, Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong proclaimed this the biggest pot bust in the county’s history, which provided for an auspicious headline if not exactly a marketing point for the county.
But since that attention-getting statement, the investigation as it relates to Mr. Olvera-Landaverde has grown ever more curious and convoluted.
Following his big announcement, Mr. Armstrong immediately became very reticent about who might be his prime suspect in this case, although the identity generally was known because of the source of the tip.
Then Mr. Armstrong announced that the case was being turned over to federal authorities, who likewise declined to name the suspect or explain what they were doing to arrest this person, all the while hiding behind the “ongoing investigation” curtain.
Some months later that picture became slightly clearer when Mr. Olvera-Landaverde was located in South Texas by Border Patrol officers and two of Mr. Armstrong’s deputies were dispatched to return him to Kentucky for prosecution.
Why SCSO deputies would pick up a suspect wanted on federal charges appeared an anomaly – until we learned that those charges were once again under the state’s jurisdiction.
But even before Mr. Olvera-Landaverde was indicted, the case again was moved to federal jurisdiction, because, as officials explained, there are much more severe penalties available than there would be in state court – which would become the last statement about this case that we could understand.
With Mr. Olvera-Landaverde in custody, the charges against him began their methodical wind through the federal halls of justice, where the sunshine of public exposure seldom shines.
We were left to assume – because no one would say – that he would be facing this record amount of evidence, be given plea options to save the court time and remain a guest of the government pending a trial, as would be the normal process.
Then, stunningly, in November, U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves returned the case to the public eye by dropping the charges against Mr. Olvera-Landaverde.
Judge Reeves has offered no reason other than to release a statement that he was acting on a request from federal prosecutors.
That was it. No more case, no more charges, no court brief. Only the big question of “why?”.
Despite repeated requests, federal authorities have not deigned – maybe even disdained – to explain this action.
In fact, they have acted, in our view, with a general contempt for the issues of public safety among all of us who live in Shelby County.
They don’t seem to want to explain why they decided there was no case against Mr. Olvera-Landaverde, apparently don’t feel a responsibility to report to the taxpayers who pay them to prosecute criminal cases.
They don’t say anything.
But some Shelby Countians apparently aren’t going to let this go away. Last month a grand jury, acting on information supplied by the Kentucky State Police, reindicted Mr. Olvera-Landaverde in Shelby County Circuit Court on those same charges that had been dropped.
Let us be clear: A federal judge agreed with prosecutors that those charges against Mr. Olvera-Landaverde should be dropped, but a group of our residents said they should not.
This doesn’t balance on the scales of justice as we know them, because we once again are waiting in a vacuum while our public officials serve us with silence.
Don't you have questions?
Such as, has Mr. Olvera-Landaverde been served with his indictment? Is he in custody?
Can Shelby County Commonwealth Attorney Laura Donnell prosecute a case that the federal prosecutors found suspect?
Is there new evidence?
Who is this mysterious officer for KSP – a spokesperson for Post 12 said he didn’t know this officer and couldn’t find his name in the department’s directory of employees – who presented evidence to the grand jury and signed the indictment?
Does the evidence on these charges create a threshold to a much larger public threat than one person stockpiling marijuana for sale?
We don’t know any of those answers because officials are hiding their work from you, their bosses.
Are you OK with that? Does that make you feel safe?
No, we didn’t think so.
Would someone please contact John Grisham? We need an ending to this debacle.