A program that provides jail inmates to a variety of Northern Kentucky facilities to perform jobs has come to a screeching halt temporarily. County officials and law enforcement are trying to figure out how to zip up a big loophole.
The review comes after a Kenton County jail inmate working at the animal shelter, recently managed to get his hands on what we're told was as much as a kilo of cocaine.
Local 12 News Reporter Rich Jaffe says until very recently Kenton County jail inmates helped out with the animals at the Kenton County animal shelter on a regular basis. But there's an incinerator there which is used to dispose of drugs confiscated during criminal investigations.
David Randall Walden is a long time criminal. In fact the smiling felon's rap sheet is almost six pages long. Serving time on Kentucky burglary and weapons charges, Walden and other Kenton County jail inmates were part of a work detail assigned to the county animal shelter. "The inmates were not tasked with handling drugs, this was a situation where these inmates are walking the animals, bathing the animals, picking up the animals excrement, but I can tell you at no time were they supposed to be in contact or anywhere near the evidence that was being destroyed by the various police agencies that are out there."
But investigators say they did get close to that evidence...close enough to steal it. Law enforcement sources say Walden stole a kilo of cocaine that was supposed to be burned up in the animal shelter's incinerator. "This was an instance where the inmates went into an area they weren't supposed to be in, disabled the machine that was destroying the evidence then got into the machine and removed the evidence that was in there for destruction."
It's believed the cocaine came from a massive DEA/Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force bust in 2011 that saw the arrest of Vincent Nunley after a high speed chase and crash.
At the time he allegedly stole the confiscated coke, Walden was transitioning from the Kenton County jail to a Newport halfway house...upon arrival there he failed a drug test. He's now held on a probation violation as well as new drug possession charges which could earn him 15 years in prison.
The entire inmate work program in Kenton County is also under review. "The county, police, the jailer are all over it, I know the county government is monitoring these investigations to make sure corrective measures are taken and to make sure it can't happen again."
Jail inmates on the work details are used all over the county. They even clean the prosecutors office! In reviewing the program officials say one things is sure-in the future inmates won't even get close to the incinerator.
Kenton County officials tell us the investigation is continuing, other charges and arrests are possible.
Nunley, the drug kingpin arrested in the initial case, was sentenced to 21 years in a federal prison.