By Dave Pearce
On the heels of “Operation Fair Warning,” one of a couple of remaining defendants from “Operation Heat Wave” faced trial in Posey Superior Court this week.
Floyd “Junie” Stewart, 59, of Mount Vernon, was found guilty of two charges of dealing in Cocaine, more than three grams, on Friday. Stewart was arrested during the first wave of drug arrests that occurred just months following the election of Prosecutor Travis Clowers and Sheriff Greg Oeth.
Clowers had nothing but praise for the work of all law enforcement organizations involved in the drug arrests for their thoroughness and their accuracy in building such a strong case. The result of the hard work was reflected in the amount of time the jury took to convict Stewart on both charges against him. The jury was out about 14 minutes.
“This is one of our biggest cases that came about as the result of the first raid,” Clowers said. “There are only a couple of them still pending and this was one that we believe was a major player of cocaine in our area.”
Clowers went on to say that testimony from FBI agent Bill Gray as well as Posey County Drug Task Force members Kenny Rose and Jeremy Fortune as well as a confidential informant helped create a solid case to present to the jury. State Police Officer/FBI Special Agent Loren Brooks also contributed significantly to the case.
“The interesting thing is that the jury was out only 14 minutes,” Clowers said. “That is really fast. Our law enforcement officers and I imagine, the defendant himself, were all surprised that a verdict in a case as serious as this was returned this quickly.”
Clowers said the quick decision is a testament to the citizens of Posey County that local law enforcement put together a very strong case.
“We presented the strong case that law enforcement had put together,” Clowers said. “A Posey County jury was ready to convict based on the strength of the evidence. They did it. I want to thank the jury for taking all the evidence into consideration and finding the defendant guilty.”
Clowers said that complaints have been coming in for “years” alleging that Stewart was involved in illegal drug activity. But it took a new approach by members of the law enforcement community in cooperation with his office to gather the evidence needed and take the case to trial.
“This is just a case of sitting down and looking at the people that we had information on and then being proactive in getting them,” Clowers said. “This is just follow-up. We are going to hold people accountable for dealing drugs, especially a terrible drug like cocaine. I hope this will be another step in letting people in Posey County know that we simply are not going to tolerate this any more. We are going to be very aggressive>
The aggressiveness was also shown in October when a second sweep has now netted 34 of the 35 arrest warrants that were to be served in “Operation Fair Warning.”
Members of the Posey County Sheriff’s Department. The Posey County Drug Task Force, the Indiana State Police and the FBI, as well as members of the Mount Vernon Police Department were involved with the arrest and eventual conviction.
Stewart is set to be sentenced on Nov. 27, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. in Posey Superior Court. Stewart faces a sentence of between 20 and 50 years on each count, with the likelihood that the sentences will run concurrently.