Drug charges dropped in wake of accusations against former deputy | TheUnion.com

Drug charges dropped in wake of accusations against former deputy

Photo for The Union by John Hart The Al Jenning's Nevada County Science Fair, awards ceremony, Friday evening, Grass Valley Elks Lodge, South School Street, Grass Valley. The students going to the state science fair. Front row Cole Jarvis, Grass Valley Charter, and Julia V. Grass Valley Clear Creek. Bark row are Macy Wood Mt. St. Mary's, Zachary Barralu Forest Charter, Joyce Wilson Forest Charter, Brandon Gribas Clear Creek, and Molly Shine Union Hill schools.

Nevada County prosecutors have moved to dismiss all charges against a man with multiple drug accusations, saying a former sheriff's detective connected to the case had an "inappropriate relationship" with a confidential informant, court records state.

Former Detective Mark Hollitz is accused in a Thursday motion of having an undisclosed, inappropriate relationship with an informant, and of using that person to "set up" another informant who'd refused to cooperate with an investigation, Assistant District Attorney Joe Alexander's motion states.

Additionally, Alexander claims Hollitz, who resigned in February, improperly destroyed records documenting his use of informants.

Sheriff Keith Royal's office discovered the allegations after Hollitz' mid-February resignation. Newell said the sheriff brought the information to him that month, leading to an investigation.

The District Attorney's Office is now identifying and reviewing some 80 cases involving Hollitz, the motion states.

The first of those centers on Joel Taylor Franks, whose case sparked the Thursday motion to dismiss. That motion came just days before a Monday hearing.

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Franks' attorney, Stephen Munkelt, had planned to argue on Monday that the case should be dismissed because of outrageous governmental conduct, claiming authorities had promoted or created situations for his client to possess drugs.

"For my client, this is obviously a great result in the case," Munkelt said, adding later, "This doesn't solve all of those concerns."

Alexander's motion states that Hollitz wouldn't cooperate with the case, and wouldn't be available for the hearing. Hollitz also indicated he'd avoid the service of a subpoena.

The confidential informant Hollitz had a relationship with had no involvement in Franks' case, Alexander said.

Hollitz, who couldn't be reached for comment, currently faces no criminal charges.

"Our office will ultimately make a decision whether Hollitz will be charged," Alexander said in an email.

Accusations

The motion to dismiss affects three separate cases pending against Franks. First arrested in April 2015, he was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession for sale. His second arrest came in September 2015, when authorities accused him of possession of a controlled substance, possession for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The third arrested came in March 2016, when deputies charged him with possession of a controlled substance for sale and transporting a controlled substance.

"Because of Hollitz's actions, these subsequent investigations are tainted in a manner that cannot be remedied," Alexander's motion states.

Franks' Monday hearing now is expected to focus on the prosecution's motion to dismiss. If the motion is denied, Munkelt said he intends to argue his motion claiming outrageous governmental conduct.

In his motion Munkelt argues that deputies monitored Franks and created situations for him to possess controlled substances. The deputies would then know when Franks would have drugs, and search him during those times.

Munkelt's motion specifically points to Detective Jason Mackey, alleging reports of dishonesty and misconduct made against him by other officers.

"Hollitz was the initial source of these allegations," Alexander states. "The allegations have been investigated by both the Nevada County District Attorney's Office as well as by (the Nevada County Sheriff's Office).

"The People have not found any credible evidence that Detective Mackey purposefully engaged in deceptive or dishonest behavior within the scope of his duties as a peace officer in this or any other case."

According to Alexander's motion, authorities based Franks' charges off of three different search warrants. Hollitz, at the time part of the sheriff's narcotics task force, wrote the first warrant.

That first warrant was based on information from a confidential informant. Two other detectives wrote the following two warrants, though they relied in part on Hollitz's information, the motion states.

Mackey played a small role in the Franks' investigation and wrote none of the warrants in that case, Alexander states.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.