Clay County constable sold, used drugs, court document says

Witness: Roberts snorted pill, spoke of gun

bestep@herald-leader.comJuly 25, 2011 

A Clay County constable charged in a drug case sold prescription pills to an informant and snorted a crushed-up pain pill in front of that witness, according to a court document.

Jackie "The Tireman" Roberts, 50, also told the informant that he slept with a .38-caliber pistol.

It was a crime for Roberts to have a pistol because he is a convicted felon, according to one charge against him.

Details about the investigation and arrest of Roberts — an elected constable with arrest powers — and his wife Jennifer, 41, were included in a sworn statement from Todd E. Tremaine, a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who has taken part in the case.

Police arrested the couple Wednesday.

Operation UNITE officers used an informant to buy five pain pills from Jennifer Roberts at her husband's tire shop on U.S. 421 in May, Tremaine said in the document.

On June 19, an informant working with UNITE and the Manchester Police Department bought two pills from Jackie Roberts at the store, according to the statement.

During that transaction, Jennifer Roberts crushed a hydrocodone pill and she, Jackie Roberts and the informant each snorted a line of it, Tremaine said in the statement.

The informant was wearing a hidden video recording device, and the tape shows the couple snorting the drug, Tremaine said.

Authorities arrested Roberts and his wife the next day and searched the store and a building on Curry Branch where the couple had stayed.

Tremaine put a recording device in the back of a police cruiser where Roberts and his wife were being detained while police searched the building.

The two, not realizing they were being recorded, discussed to whom they had sold pills to try to figure who might have turned them in, Tremaine said.

At one point, Jennifer Roberts said that if police let her go, "you watch and see if I don't go jerk a notch in her a--," according to the affidavit.

Jackie Roberts denied ownership of the .38-caliber pistol police found at the building where he had allegedly stayed, but other family members said they had seen him carrying it.

A family member said Roberts carried the gun because he felt threatened by someone he had arrested earlier this year, according to Tremaine.

Jackie Roberts also denied illegally selling pills. However, he acknowledged he had snorted pills and said he had used pain pills for 15 or 16 years.

Roberts' record included convictions for robbery, theft, welfare fraud, first-degree assault and domestic-violence assault, Tremaine said.

Roberts is charged in federal court with distributing pills; being an illegal drug user in possession of a gun; possession of a gun by a convicted felon; and possession of a gun by someone convicted of domestic violence.

Jennifer Roberts is charged with distributing pills and being an illegal drug user in possession of a gun.

The Web site of the Laurel County Detention Center showed Sunday that they remained lodged there pending a hearing in federal court.

Bill Estep covers southeastern Kentucky for the Herald-Leader. Reach him in the Somerset bureau at (606) 678-4655.

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