Trisha Louise Mulligan, the wife of former Pocahontas Police Chief Chad Mulligan, was sentenced Thursday to three years’ probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for possessing methamphetamine in 2011 while working as a secretary at a law firm in the Randolph County town.
Mulligan, 48, pleaded guilty April 3 to possessing less than 1.7 ounces of a mixture containing the illegal drug, admitting that on several occasions, she placed cash for the drug in a spot under a green disk in the garden of the Throesh Law Firm and later retrieved the drug from the same spot.
Federal prosecutors say Travis Blaine Perkins, 34, of Pocahontas is the man who left the drug under the disk for Mulligan and picked up the cash. Perkins was found shot to death in his Pocahontas apartment on April 15, just four days before he was expected to plead guilty in the case as well.
Mulligan and Perkins were among eight people jointly indicted in 2012 in a federal methamphetamine possession and manufacturing case dating back to 2008.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Gardner said during Mulligan’s plea hearing in April that video surveillance recorded her and occasionally another secretary at the law firm, Elaine Marie Swann, retrieving the drug from under the disk after Perkins left it there. Swann has also pleaded guilty to the methamphetamine possession charge and awaits sentencing.
A sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday by Mulligan’s attorney, Brooks Wiggins of North Little Rock, calls her a “minor player” in the case and notes that she developed an addiction to methamphetamine that she hid from her husband, her children, her boss and the community until her arrest. Her husband resigned as police chief after her arrest, and, Wiggins said, other members of the police force then resigned in support of Chad Mulligan, who came under public scrutiny despite never being charged with a crime.
Two other defendants in the case, Rebecca Lucille Spray and Randall Wayne Byrd, the latter of whom managed the apartment building where Perkins lived, also have pleaded guilty in the case. Spray admitted conspiring in 2011 to possess chemicals and equipment to manufacture the drug, and Byrd admitted maintaining a drug premises, for allowing drug activity to go on at the apartments from 2009 through Feb. 7, 2012.
Another defendant in the case, Thomas Thorn Watson, was scheduled for a change-of plea hearing in April, but his attorney canceled the plea at the last minute, citing a scheduling conflict.
Aside from Watson, only a father and son remain scheduled for trial in the case on Nov. 18 before U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes. Both Bob Sam Castleman, once a prominent attorney in Pocahontas and a district judge, and his son, Robert Jerrod Castleman, have been ordered held in custody until trial. All are charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, although the Castlemans each face an additional charge as well.
Meanwhile, the elder Castleman was indicted earlier this month on additional charges of mail fraud and mail-fraud conspiracy. He is accused of faking a burglary at his home between Pocahontas and Imboden in February 2012 and filing a false claim with an insurance company that resulted in him receiving more than $18,000 for payment of stolen arrowheads and American Indian artifacts.
The elder Castleman was in court earlier this week on a request to be released from jail until trial, but Holmes refused after a prosecutor argued that Castleman presented a potential danger to the community if released. She noted that several years ago, he and his son pleaded guilty, during their trial, to charges of mailing a live copperhead snake to a man who the Castlemans said had fired shots at the younger Castleman while he was driving.
A woman sitting in a pickup beside the intended victim opened the package one afternoon, just after the truck stopped at the intended victim’s mailbox and was heading up a long driveway to the home. The woman saw the snake emerge from Styrofoam peanuts, screamed and and threw the package out the window, where the snake was later killed by sheriff’s deputies.