Johnson sheriff candidate indicted on drug, weapons charges

August 7, 2013

PIKEVILLE — A man who at one time said he would be a candidate for sheriff in Johnson County has been indicted by a federal grand jury on drug and weapons charges.

John Thomas Kline, 43, of Hager Hill, was indicted Thursday on charges of possessing and distributing oxycodone, carisoprodol and alprazolam, as well as carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

According to the indictment, Kline distributed oxycodone in Floyd County on three occasions and in Johnson County on two occasions, and distributed carisoprodol and alprazolam on one occasion each in Johnson County. On July 5, during an alleged instance of distributing oxycodone in Johnson County, Kline allegedly carried a loaded Kel-Tec 9 mm semiautomatic pistol.

Kline is also charged with possessing firearms while being an unlawful user of marijuana. The indictment seeks forfeiture of 17 weapons and ammunition seized from him.

According to an affidavit by Ronald Sabotchick, a senior special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the ATF first began investigating Kline June 26, after receiving information from a confidential informant.

According to the affidavit, the informant told Sabotchick that Kline had been boasting of being “one of the largest pill dealers in Johnson County” and advised that Kline carried a 9 mm firearm. Further, the informant told Sabotchick that Kline had asked about acquiring explosives from the informant, in order to “get even with someone for making a controlled narcotics purchase from him.”

Sabotchick alleges in the affidavit that the informant and Kline had a conversation June 27, during which the informant asked Kline “if he would be interested in having someone kill and/or harm the person Kline wanted to get even with,” to which Kline agreed. He offered to pay the informant with 20 30-milligram Oxycontin pills to put explosives in the person’s car, “because that person had worn a wire for the police when making a drug buy from him.”

On July 4, the affidavit notes that the informant recorded a conversation with Kline, during which the two allegedly discussed going out of town with two other people to fill prescriptions. The two also discussed delaying the revenge plot, because “there would be too much publicity and a lot of attention would be on him.” The two also discussed Kline selling the informant 100 30-milligram oxycodone tablets for $3,000 and made arrangements to conduct the transaction the following day, at the informant’s place of business.

Sabotchick says in the affidavit that the ATF provided the informant with $3,000 to buy the pills and placed audio and video recording equipment in the business. Kline arrived at the business at 5:45 p.m., July 5. The informant allegedly gave Kline the money in exchange for the pills, after which Kline allegedly brandished a loaded Kel-Tec 9 mm pistol.

Officers of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office reviewed the audio and video recordings and relayed to Sabotchick that the recordings accurately reflected the informant’s story.

Kline is scheduled to appear for arraignment Aug. 12 in U.S. District Court.