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Prosecutors: Ex-sheriff found with drugs in jail

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ST. LOUIS – A former southern Illinois sheriff awaiting resentencing in a federal drug and foiled murder-for-hire case has been found to have suspected cocaine and prescription pills in his jail cell, a U.S. prosecutor alleges in a court filing.

The 22-page memorandum, filed last week by assistant U.S. attorney James Cutchin, did not indicate how former longtime Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin got the drugs uncovered Oct. 30 in the cell he occupied alone in Illinois’ Williamson County, where he has been jailed since being transferred recently from a federal lockup.

Cutchin also did not indicate whether the discovery of the drugs would mean new legal troubles for Martin, though he wrote in the court filing that “all of this information combines to demonstrate that (his) criminal bent is a deep-seeded one that demands” consideration when he’s sentenced again Dec. 7.

Cutchin wrote that some of the unspecified prescription medication found in Martin’s cell on a bunk under his toothpaste and behind a roll of toilet paper after he was strip searched had been prescribed to Martin while he was incarcerated, though others were not.

Federal inmates are barred from possessing any type of medication, instead relying on medical staff to give them supervised individual doses.

Cutchin said 8 grams of a white powder that field tests at the time showed to be cocaine were found in a plastic bag that also contained 21 of the prescription pills. Results of laboratory tests of that substance thought to be cocaine haven’t been released.

The “defendant admitted to jail officials that the substances found in the cell belonged to him,” Cutchin wrote.

Messages left Thursday by The Associated Press for Cutchin were not immediately returned.

Martin’s attorney, John O’Gara, declined to discuss the matter Thursday with the AP, saying he plans to file a written response to Cutchin’s memorandum and “address my comments to the judge in court.”

Martin had been sentenced last January to two life sentences on weapons charges, as well as numerous lesser prison terms on other counts all related to what prosecutors alleged was his marijuana trafficking while on duty as sheriff and his later plot to have witnesses against him killed.

A federal jury convicted him in September 2010, after witnesses testified that Martin was on duty when he supplied a drug dealer with marijuana he at times pilfered from his department’s evidence locker, then threatened to kill the dealer when the man said he wanted out. The then-sheriff also pressured the dealer by saying he could make up a crime against him and pledged to use his power to shut down rival dealers, prosecutors said.

Investigators said the dealer let authorities record his conversations with Martin – a Democrat who had been re-elected four times – over several weeks because he was scared of the lawman’s threats.

Authorities alleged that even after Martin was jailed on drug counts, he masterminded a scheme to have two potential witnesses assaulted and possibly killed. Neither witness was harmed because the would-be hitmen got cold feet and told authorities.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the life sentences in August, largely on a technicality. Federal prosecutors will press for those life terms again when Martin is resentenced next month.

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