Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

November 29, 2012

Local cases resume for federal prisoner

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — After lengthy delays due to a parallel federal case, a Glasgow man is back in Barren and Metcalfe courts for criminal cases that are more than two years old.

Bernis Wayne Rupe Jr., of 500 Settles Rd., was arrested in 2009 and 2010 for a variety of drug-related charges. The two local cases were put on hold when Rupe was indicted federally for the charges he incurred in Barren County. Now that Rupe has been sentenced in his federal case, Commonwealth’s Attorney Karen Davis said she is working with Rupe’s attorney, Johnny Bell, to reach a plea agreement for the Barren and Metcalfe cases.

On Nov. 9, 2010, Barren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Wyatt was called to a burglary complaint on Spencer Road. A description of the burglars’ truck was provided, and Wyatt found the vehicle at the intersection of Lick Branch and Hollow roads. Rupe and co-defendant Melissa Compton were inside the truck. When Wyatt tried to stop the truck, Rupe and Compton led him on a chase and then attempted to flee the scene once Wyatt stopped them on Wildcat Road. Various controlled substances and materials used for making methamphetamine were found in the truck, including a tank of anhydrous ammonia.

Rupe and Compton were charged with possession of anhydrous ammonia in unapproved container with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, first degree; unlawful possession of methamphetamine precursor, first offense, weapon enhancement; possession of a controlled substance, first degree (methamphetamine), weapon enhancement; possession of a controlled substance, third degree (Clonazepam), weapon enhancement; and possession of drug paraphernalia, weapon enhancement. All five charges are felonies. Additionally, Rupe was charged with theft by unlawful taking, under $500; fleeing or evading police (motor vehicle), first degree; wanton endangerment, first degree, police officer; reckless driving; operating on a suspended/revoked operator’s license and promoting contraband. Those charges added three more felonies to Rupe’s indictment.

Based on the Nov. 9, 2010, incident, the U.S. attorney charged Rupe and Compton in U.S. District Court for possession of a meth precursor and Rupe with simultaneously possessing a firearm.

The federal charges, which were filed in February 2011, halted the Barren County Circuit Court case as well as a Metcalfe Circuit court case that charged Rupe with manufacturing methamphetamine, first offense; possession of anhydrous ammonia in unapproved container with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, first degree; trafficking in a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (methamphetamine); possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (methamphetamine); unlawful possession of a meth precursor, first offense; wanton endangerment, first degree; buy/possess drug paraphernalia; possession of marijuana; possession/use of radio that sends/receives police messages; carrying a concealed deadly weapon and operating on a suspended/revoked operator’s license on Sept. 12, 2009.

Rupe took a plea deal in district court in July that sentenced him to 36 months in a federal prison and three years of supervised release, according to court documents. He was being lodged in the United States Penitentiary Hazelton, in West Virginia, until he was transferred back to Kentucky this week for court appearances, Davis said.

A pre-trial conference was in Barren Circuit Court on Monday, and Davis said she and Bell discussed possibilities of an agreement. Davis’ hope would be to settle both the Barren and Metcalfe cases jointly, she said.

“We are looking at trying to wrap this up,” Davis said. “Whether that will happen or not when we go back to court, I can’t say for sure.”

Circuit court cases are often dismissed when federal district court takes up the same or similar case, Davis said, but she chose not to dismiss these cases while the federal charges proceeded. In the past, she has dismissed cases with the expectation of steeper federal charges, she said, but the outcome has not always been what she expected.

“When I looked at some of the cases I had dismissed in the past with the belief that they would get more time at the federal level, sometimes they didn’t get more than I would have asked for,” Davis said.

For agreements in Rupe’s Barren and Metcalfe cases, Davis said she is trying not to consider the deal he got with the federal government.

“I try to look at my cases irrespective of what the feds did or didn’t do,” Davis said.

When the cases are settled, Davis said the sentences may not appear to be satisfactory based on Rupe’s charges, but many aspects of the cases will happen off the record. Davis has asked for Rupe’s circuit court sentences to run concurrent with his federal sentence, which means if his circuit court sentences do not exceed his federal sentence, then no jail time will actually be added.

Rupe has a history of being a repeat offender, but since most of his past crimes have been misdemeanors in local district courts, Davis said she cannot say for sure if Rupe will continue his pattern when he gets out of jail again.

“I don’t want to do anything that’s going to put him back on the streets any sooner than his current federal sentence requires,” Davis said.

Bell could not be reached for comment by press time.

According to court records, Rupe is scheduled to appear in Metcalfe Circuit Court on Dec. 11 at 9 a.m., and Barren Circuit Court on Dec. 17 at 1 p.m.