February, 24 2006
The alleged mastermind of a wide-ranging marijuana distribution operation has been indicted along with two co-defendants by the Trousdale County grand jury on an array of charges, including attempted theft and tampering with government records.
Fred Earl Strunk, who has remained in custody in the Macon County Jail since his January arrest, was indicted on one count each of manufacturing marijuana and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, charges that were widely expected after authorities seized some 850 plants from caves beneath his Dixon Springs home.
But Strunk was also indicted on five counts of money laundering, one count of theft of property over $60,000, four counts of forgery, one count of criminal impersonation and four counts of tampering with government records. Officials indicated the forgery and tampering charges resulted from fake identifications and passports seized from the suspect, who is facing drug and weapons charges in Florida.
Attempts to contact Assistant District Attorney David Durham – who has headed the investigation into the businessman – were unsuccessful Thursday.
Strunk defense attorney Jack Lowery on Thursday declined to discuss the case in detail, citing the need for attorneys to complete their own investigation into the allegations.
However, he said the theft charge apparently relates to stolen electricity used to power the alleged operation. He portrayed several of the non-marijuana related charges as "minimal type allegations."
He noted under state law an indictment "carries absolutely no inference of guilt."
"It really wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment at this time on the more substantive charges, the manufacturing and conspiracy, because we're so deep into our own investigation into some of these accusations," Lowery said.
Co-defendants Gregory A. Compton and Brian Wayne Gibson were indicted on manufacturing and conspiracy charges, in addition to both being charged with one count each of money laundering and conspiracy to commit theft over $60,000.
Authorities in Florida recently indicted Strunk on weapons and marijuana charges and obtained an order to extradite him from anywhere in the world when caught.
Though at the time the Florida charges surfaced Durham said the suspect would "eventually" have to face them, he indicated the case there would have no impact on the Trousdale County investigation, which originated with agents of the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
The probe into Strunk and his allegedly illegal dealings has sent local authorities not only to Florida but to California, where a major manufacturing company he helped found continues to thrive.
The suspect was also a Wilson County resident for a brief period after leaving California.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suspected drug mastermind indicted
February, 24 2006