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Pharmacy owner arrested 2 days after suing city, police officials

COLUMBIA, Ky. — The owner of three Russell County pharmacies was arrested Monday on drug-trafficking charges, two days after court records show he and his wife filed a lawsuit against the city of Russell Springs.

Police said Leon M. Grider, 69, of Russell Springs was arrested Monday at Grider Drug on Main Street in Russell Springs following a brief standoff.

“He knew we were there,” said Russell Springs Police Department Chief Joe Michael Irvin. “He just refused to open the door.”

Irvin said he tried telephoning Grider inside the business, but the pharmacy owner hung up on him. “He thought he was going to be talking to [Russell County Sheriff] Larry Bennett,” Irvin said.

Irvin said Grider finally opened the door after approximately 30 to 35 minutes. The chief said police then explained why they were there and Grider went with them peacefully after asking to see the arrest warrants.

Irvin charged Grider with second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, first offense, for allegedly trafficking in hydrocodone in the spring of 2004. Irvin also charged Grider with trafficking in a controlled substance in or near a school on the same date.

Irvin’s charges against Grider are explained in more detail in two criminal complaints and arrest warrants sworn by Irvin in front of a Russell Circuit Court judge on Monday, Aug. 15, 2005.

Irvin’s first complaint alleges that Grider illegally transferred 14 units of alprazolam to an unnamed female on Tuesday, March 2, 2004. The complaint further alleges that the transaction took place within 1,000 yards of the Russell Springs Elementary School.

Irvin’s second complaint alleges that Grider illegally transferred 12 units of hydrocodone to an unnamed female on the same date.

Alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax, is a sedative commonly used as an anti-anxiety agent.

Hydrocodone, sometimes sold under the brand names Vicodin or Lorcet, is a painkiller classified as a Schedule II narcotic under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Hydrocodone is also a chemical cousin of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin.

Grider is charged with two additional counts of drug trafficking in an Adair District Court arrest warrant signed by Judge James B. Weddle, also on Monday.

The Adair warrant charges Grider with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, first offense, and third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, first offense.

The warrant was obtained based on information contained in two criminal complaints sworn before Weddle by Kentucky State Police Detective Scott Hammond, also on Monday.

In Hammond’s first complaint, he alleges that Grider unlawfully transferred 100 units of methadone to an undercover state police informant on Saturday, June 4, 2005. Methadone, a synthetic opiate painkiller often used to treat heroin dependence, is also a Schedule II narcotic.

In Hammond’s second complaint, the detective alleges that Grider unlawfully transferred 60 units of alprazolam to an undercover state police informant on the same date as the alleged methadone transaction.

Lawsuit Claims Defamation, Filed Two Days Before Arrest

Irvin said the pharmacy owner has been under investigation since 2003, but Russell Circuit Court records show that Grider filed a defamation lawsuit against the city of Russell Springs on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2005 — two days before his arrest on drug-trafficking charges.

Irvin and Hammond are both named as defendants in the civil case, as are Russell Springs Mayor Brian Walters, Police Commissioner Carla Grider and RSPD Assistant Chief Jamie Rogers.

The lawsuit claims that Leon Grider and his wife, Anna Mae Grider, have “suffered irreparable financial harm” because of defamatory statements made by the defendants. The lawsuit also claims the Griders have suffered from intentional infliction of emotional distress and outrage, abuse of authority and federal civil rights violations.

Both Leon and Anna Mae Grider declined to speak with a reporter about the lawsuit, citing instructions from their Lexington attorney.

“My lawyer said not to comment, so I’m not going to,” said Leon Grider.

When asked if he would agree to pose for photographs for this story, Mr. Grider hesitated and asked a reporter to “hang on just a second.”

A moment later, Anna Mae Grider came on the line and said “We don’t want any pictures in the paper.”

“I don’t know why they, well — that’s a dumb statement,” Mrs. Grider said. “We do know why he wants to put a mug shot in [the paper].”

When asked who she meant by “he,” Mrs. Grider avoided answering the question by asking another question.

As of this story’s Tuesday night deadline, none of the defendants contacted by a reporter said they had yet been served with a summons or seen any official documentation.

“I have not been served any papers and really know no details,” said Walters, adding that he’d just returned from an all-day trip to Prestonsburg.

The mayor said he’d received several phone calls from people wanting to know what was going on, but he didn’t know what to tell them.

“To be honest, I don’t have a clue about anything,” he said.

“All I know is what I’ve heard on the radio,” Rogers said. “And the rumors from there.”

“First I heard of it was on the radio broadcast this morning,” Irvin said Tuesday night. “I hadn’t heard anything about it other than somebody told me something had been filed that hadn’t been signed by the attorney or something.”

Police Commissioner Carla Grider said she didn’t believe the news the first time she heard it — over morning coffee at 5:30 a.m. on a local radio station.

“I guess maybe I need to resign and let somebody else do a better job,” the commissioner said. “It’s not been easy.”

But, she said, “I’ve got a broad shoulder.”

Hammond still hadn’t been reached by this story’s deadline. Hammond was off-duty Tuesday, according to KSP Lt. Eric Wolford, and the detective didn’t immediately return a reporter’s phone call to his home Tuesday night.

(Originally published online on Aug. 16, 2005 at the defunct RussellRegister.com with the headline “Pharmacy owner arrested two days after suing city, police officials.” A version of this article also appears in print on page A1 of the Aug. 18, 2005 edition of the defunct Russell Register newspaper with an unknown headline.)