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Couple allegedly threatened to kill drug informant

A Laurel County couple allegedly made repeated threats to kill an informant in a drug case, one of them even posing as a police officer to try to find the person, according to a statement from a federal agent.

Christina Rose Denham and her boyfriend Brandon Bruce Pitman, of Keavy, have been charged with conspiring to transmit a threat and with aiding each other in making the threat, according to a criminal complaint.

The complaint was filed Thursday in federal court in London.

"Witness intimidation will not be tolerated and we take this very seriously. We will seek federal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law," Paul J. Vido, special agent over the Kentucky office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said in a statement.

The case started after state police arrested Denham's aunt, Judy Wilder, 55, on drug charges Jan. 16, according to an affidavit from ATF Agent Todd E. Tremaine.

In that case, a police informant bought drugs from Wilder, Tremaine said.

The informant also works with ATF and is a potential witness in several federal drug cases, the affidavit said.

Later during the day Wilder was arrested, the informant started getting threatening phone calls — a total of more than 20 from Jan. 16 to Jan. 20, Tremaine said.

The people threatening the informant left voice-mail messages, which the informant saved, the agent said.

In one, a caller the informant knew as Brandon said, "I've got a picture of you and when I find you, you are a dead man," according to Tremaine's statement.

A woman the informant knew as Christy also allegedly left profanity-laced threats.

"You're (expletive) dead. And you won't know where it's coming from," the caller allegedly said. "Next thing you know you'll be (expletive) laying with your (expletive) hands cut off."

In several calls, the man the informant identified as Brandon posed as a police officer and offered to protect the informant, Tremaine said.

"And we have reason to believe that your life is in danger and you need protective custody," the caller allegedly told the informant in one message. "I don't know where you are at. But you need to get up with me. Call back as quick as you can and we will get you somewhere safe."

State police Officer Mike King was able to identify the female voice on the phone calls as that of Denham, leading to the arrests, Tremaine said.