Plymouth drug prosecution delayed nearly 4 months
Plymouth Michigan Police Chief Al Cox at Liquor License Review Committee Meeting
Apr. 1, 2014 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
“The owner of Fiamma has since protested erroneous reports that the arrest took place in his business”
A miscommunication was the apparent cause of a four-month delay in the prosecution of a Dearborn man arrested for possession with intent to deliver cocaine at a downtown Plymouth restaurant and bar.
Bryce M. Koth, 50, appeared for a preliminary hearing on charges last week before 35th District Judge Mike Gerou after his arrest by Plymouth police at around 9:30 p.m. Nov.16. This court hearing was delayed at the request of attorneys who said more time was needed to obtain evidentiary surveillance video. The preliminary hearing was rescheduled for this Tuesday.
According to police reports of the incident, Landon Garrett, identified as the owner of the Ironwood Grill and 336 Main, flagged down a police car on patrol in the lower lot of the downtown city parking structure Nov. 16. Garrett, according to the reports, told the officer that a waitress at the Ironwood Grill had been given small packets of cocaine by a customer on three separate occasions. Garrett told the officer that the waitress said the packets were folded in her tip money and that she had never solicited the drugs. Garrett, according to the report, said the man who had given the drugs to the waitress was at the bar and requested that officers remove the man from his establishment.
According to the report, immediately after the officer was flagged down, he received a call from dispatch to meet with Garrett at Ironwood Grill, located at 840 W. Ann Arbor Trail. Two other officers responded to the call and joined the first patrolman at the scene, leaving the patrol cars in the parking structure at the rear of the bar.
The officers entered the bar, two remaining near the door, as one of them approached Koth, according to police reports. The officer stated in his report that he told Koth that management requested he leave the establishment and suggested he walk him outside to the alley to talk.
The officer’s report indicates that once outside the bar, Koth consented to a search of his person and that officers found two plastic bags containing 16 grams of a white powdery substance along with a wallet containing $2,831. Officers arrested him at the scene and transported him to the Plymouth Township Police Department for processing. At the township, a second search revealed another $60 in cash. The officer said that he told Koth at the time that all the money would now be forfeited to Wayne County.
In the report, the officer said a preliminary field test of the white powder was positive for cocaine. A second officer on the scene spoke with Dan Johnson, also identified as an owner of Ironwood Grill. This officer also interviewed the waitress who confirmed that Koth had given her a white powder in a small baggie, which she had thrown away on three separate occasions.
According to the police reports, Johnson later told officers that when Koth was arrested and in the patrol car, the manager of Fiamma came into the alley behind the establishments. According to the police reports, Johnson said that the Fiamma manager identified Koth as “trying to peddle drugs in his place.”
At the most recent Liquor License Review Committee in the city, the drug arrest was listed on the agenda under item H as “Drug Arrest, Fiamma/Ironwood.” The owner of Fiamma has since protested erroneous reports that the arrest took place in his business.
Plymouth police sent a request for a felony drug warrant to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office-Narcotics Unit on Nov. 25, 11 days following Koth’s arrest.
There was no further action listed in police reports of the case until Feb. 11, more than 13 weeks following the arrest when officers called the prosecutor’s office to check on the status of the warrant. Police reports state that an attorney in the prosecutor’s office told the inquiring officer that the warrant was not in the system and “was likely stuck in the fax machine since 11/25/13 as they had no toner for the fax machine to print (warrant) requests.”
According to Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller, however, all police departments received notification in early November that the prosecutor’s office was changing to a new fax/computer system and given a new number to fax warrant requests.
Miller said that Plymouth received the felony warrant the day after the request was sent to the correct number.
Koth was formally charged March 6 by video arraignment in front of Judge James Plakas who entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf and set his bond at $10,000.
Koth, 50, now faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 if convicted of the charges. He remains free on bond.
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