link halts federal drug case Former Prichard
narcotics officer figured prominently in case
By JOE DANBORN
Federal prosecutors in Mobile have at least
temporarily dropped drug charges against an
Atlanta man, in part because the case might have
hinged on testimony from embattled former
Prichard Police Sgt. John Stuckey.
U.S. Attorney J. Don Foster's office requested
the July 14 dismissal of the various cocaine and
crack cocaine counts against Frankie Miller with
the caveat that prosecutors would continue their
investigation and might renew the charges later.
The case is one of dozens in federal and state
court in which Stuckey, the one-time head of
Prichard's narcotics and vice unit and an officer
from 1992 until earlier this year, figured
So far, the Mobile Register has not learned of
any other cases that have been dropped because of
questions surrounding Stuckey.
FBI agents raided several Prichard Police
locations Thursday with a federal search warrant,
seizing evidence surrounding the months-old
investigation into possible corruption in the
Prichard Police Chief Sammie Brown said Friday
he asked for the external investigation of his
department earlier this year and had advance
warning of Thursday's raid.
No one had been charged by late Friday as a
result of the investigation.
Stuckey, who is in his late 40s and still
lives in South Alabama, resigned in March amid
allegations of misconduct. As part of his duties
with Prichard, he was a member of a multi-agency
Drug Enforcement Administration task force in
Mobile. DEA officials dismissed him from the task
force in February.
Court documents show that Stuckey and four
other Prichard officers under his command served
a state search warrant at a home on Mack Street
on May 22, 1999. A man there, Fred Lambert, told
the officers that "he picked up a kilo ...
from Frankie" at a home on George Street.
The same five officers immediately got another
warrant to search the George Street residence
where Miller was living.
The officers seized about two kilos of powder
and crack cocaine, as well as more than $16,000
cash and equipment used to convert powder cocaine
into crack, according to a DEA report dated more
than three weeks later and signed by Stuckey. No
one was home during the search.
Stuckey found some of the drugs himself and
eventually handled almost all of the evidence,
according to court documents.
Miller was indicted about three months after
the search, along with Lambert and a third man,
Landris "Big Main" Dates. Dates pleaded
guilty in October, and Lambert did the same in
Complications in Miller's case first arose
when prosecutors discovered that his lawyer, Bob
Clark, also represented Stuckey. Foster's office
asked for Clark's dismissal due to a conflict of
interest, saying that Stuckey, as the primary
officer in the case, likely would have to testify
in Miller's trial.
Prosecutors decided they would not call
Stuckey to the stand after Clark told them
Stuckey would exercise his Fifth Amendment right
not to testify, court documents show.
Clark eventually handed over Miller's defense
to another Mobile lawyer, Dom Soto.
Clark, who still represents Stuckey, said his
client committed no crime or misconduct while on
The Department of Justice investigation
surrounding Stuckey became public in a Mobile
Register story in April.
Soto soon filed a motion to suppress all
evidence in the Miller case that Stuckey had
handled, alleging that investigators never had
probable cause to obtain the search warrant for
the George Street home.
The warrant, Soto contended, was invalid
because the affidavit supporting it "does
not contain any information about the informant's
Lambert'sİ veracity or reliability,"
according to an order issued by U.S. District
Judge Charles Butler.
Butler heard arguments from Soto and Assistant
U.S. Attorney Deborah Griffin on June 22. Soto
repeated his demands that the government tell the
defense details of the Stuckey investigation.
Griffin told Butler the issue was irrelevant
because Stuckey was not going to testify and
because no other officers were involved in the
Justice Department investigation.
Butler granted the motion on June 23.
Prosecutors have told the Register that a case
against Miller would be hindered without the drug
evidence and Stuckey's testimony. They said they
are continuing to investigate Miller but would
not reveal whether any new charges against him