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A Prosecutor’s Offer: Give Up $380K And Family Won’t Go To Jail

Getty Images/Ingram Publishing
Pile of Money

UPDATE: "Accused of extortion, Louisville’s top prosecutor drops charges – but keeps cash"

Patrick Card was facing three felony drug trafficking charges and the prosecutors had prepared a deal that would spare him of jail time —  he’d just have to surrender $380,000 in cash police seized three months earlier.

That the money seized through asset forfeiture figured into the deal is not unusual. A KyCIR investigation last year found money was often a bargaining chip to entice defendants to take plea deals and quickly resolve their case, oftentimes for lesser crimes and without jail time.

But in this case, the cash was being leveraged in another way. The day before the deal was offered, prosecutors also indicted his wife, mother and father. 

If Card gave up the cash, the written plea offer said, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office would drop their charges, too. 

Attorney Ted Shouse said this case is unlike any he’s experienced. He represents Card’s wife, Hallie Card, and said it’s unusual for his clients’ cases to ride on someone else’s plea before they even appear in court to face the charges.

“If the primary defendant pleads guilty, they will dismiss charges against his wife and parents? I’ve never seen that,” he said.

The seizure is one of the biggest in recent history for the St. Matthews Police Department, according to state records. It eclipses what they’ve reported taking in the last two years combined. And per state law, if the money is forfeited, the police department will keep 85 percent of the seized cash: $323,000. Prosecutors will keep $57,000.

Steve Romines, Patrick Card’s attorney, said this case is all about the cash.

“The textbook definition of extortion is threatening to charge someone with a crime unless they pay you money,” Romines said. “That’s, basically, what it is.”

Case Started With Domestic Violence Order, Not Drug Deal

The chain of events that led to Card’s November 2019 arrest started with an incident between him and his mother.

Card’s mother requested a domestic violence protective order after she said Card, 37, had threatened to kill himself at her home a few days before, police records show.

Card’s parents declined to be interviewed.

But his 68-year-old mother, a retired teacher, told Indian Hills police that her son pointed an unloaded gun at his head, pulled the trigger and then pointed the gun at her. 

He broke things and pushed a gun safe onto his mother’s ankle, injuring her, according to the reports.

The St. Matthews Police and Jefferson County Sheriff’s office went to Card’s house to serve a domestic violence order . A domestic violence order often requires the sheriff to remove any firearms from the property, and Card stored dozens of his guns at his parents’ home. The officers went to retrieve them.

As deputies were collecting the guns from Card’s parent’s home in Indian Hills, they happened upon the cash and pills in a closet in a back room, said Lt. Col. Carl Yates, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Those deputies alerted St. Matthews Police on site to the cash. They seized it and opened a drug investigation, said Maj. Eddie Jones, spokesman for St. Matthews Police. Police also found about an ounce of marijuana and some concentrated marijuana wax at Card’s home in St. Matthews.

Jones declined to provide specific details about the case because it’s still ongoing. But court records provide some clarity.

According to police reports, most of the $380,000 in cash was in “heat sealed packaging” and the rest was rolled in rubber bands and stuffed in a cloth toolbox. Police also found a safe with hundreds of doses of prescription drugs inside. The proximity of drugs to cash that’s suspected to be drug trafficking proceeds is the main criteria for Kentucky’s asset forfeiture law.

Police also said they seized three Rolex watches valued at more than $40,000. They froze a bank account in Card’s parents’ name that held about $123,000, according to court records, although no one else in Card’s family was arrested in the wake of the search. 

St. Matthews Police and prosecutors brought a case against them to a grand jury in February. What had began as a case against Card had now turned into a case against the whole family.

According to the plea deal, if Card agreed to give up the cash and pleaded guilty to one reduced trafficking charge, prosecutors would drop three of his charges and drop the charges against his family members.

Card declined the offer. His wife has already been arraigned, and his parents will appear in Jefferson Circuit Court before Judge McKay Chauvin on Monday. They each face two counts of drug trafficking and two counts of complicity to traffic drugs, the same charges as Card. Three of the four charges are felonies. 

'They all know what's going on'

A transcript of the grand jury testimony shows that St. Matthews Police detective Eddie Napier painted Card and his family as something like a crime syndicate.

Napier told the grand jury that he asked Card’s 69-year-old father where his son’s money came from: he said it had likely come from selling weed. Since Card’s family knew he was selling pills and weed and provided assistance by occasionally picking up his prescriptions at the pharmacy, they were complicit, according to Napier.

“Our contention is they all know what’s going on and they’re all involved,” Napier told the grand jury.

He said Card and his parents had a dispute over money in the bank account police froze, which was in the parents’ name, but Card had access to. That was more proof, Napier said, that the parents were involved. 

Romines, Card’s attorney, said there’s no evidence to support the charges against Card or his family, and they’re being used only as leverage to entice Card to agree to forfeit the cash.

The prosecutor, Josh Porter, referred questions to Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney spokesperson Jeff Cooke. Cooke did not respond to a request for comment.

Romines, Card’s attorney, said it’s clear that the cash is being used as leverage in the case against his client.

Card struggles with mental and physical ailments and the documents included in the court file show prescriptions dating back to at least 2015. Card had prescriptions for all the pills police found, Romines said, and they were still in the pharmacy packaging. 

Oftentimes, when police seize cash in relation to drug trafficking charges, officers will point out that the drugs found on the scene were packaged for sale. That was not the case for Card. Napier, the St. Matthews detective, didn't address how the drugs were packaged when he testified to the grand jury. On the citation, he wrote that the number of pills found was “far in excess of the 120 required for felony trafficking.”

“There’s zero evidence of any sort of trafficking of any type,” Romines said. “If you’re drug trafficking, you don’t have pills from five years ago. You sell those pills.”

Neither Card, nor his wife, mother or father, have a history of drug trafficking charges, according to online court records. 

Romines said the authorities just want the money, but he’s readying for a fight because it’s not just about the money.

“We’ll take it all the way,” he said. “It’s the principle of the thing, too.”

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.