Jack Conway Involved in Investigation Cover-up

Courier-Journal.com

A Jefferson County prosecutor was tipped off by Louisville narcotics detectives twice in the past two years that he was under investigation for possible drug use or trafficking, according to police records obtained by The Courier-Journal.

When investigators learned of the leaks and interrogated the two detectives and the prosecutor last March, all three initially gave false or misleading statements about what happened, those records show. The statements of Matthew C. Conway, the prosecutor, were made under oath.

Details of the compromised investigations are contained in nearly 700 pages of documents obtained from Louisville Metro Police under the state open-records law.

Conway, the brother of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, had recently resigned from the Jefferson County attorney’s office to enter private practice when he learned of the first investigation in early 2008.

At the time of the second leak, in January of this year, Conway was an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, a position he still holds.

Ronald Russ and Scott Wilson, the two detectives accused of the leaks to Matthew Conway, have been placed in administrative jobs pending the outcome of an internal police inquiry into possible policy violations. Wilson told Conway of the first investigation, and Russ told him of the second one. The two investigations were prompted by separate allegations.

After a criminal investigation by police, the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office decided in August that no charges would be filed against Conway, Russ, Wilson or a third narcotics detective, Chauncey Carthan, who was not involved in the leaks but was overheard discussing the second investigation in a restaurant last March.

Carthan’s conversation was reported to Jack Conway, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, by a person supporting him. The brothers subsequently conferred with an attorney about the investigation of Matthew Conway, according to the investigative file.

The lawyer, Bart Adams of Louisville, then met with Police Chief Robert White to discuss Carthan’s conduct, according to the records.

Jack Conway’s office said in an e-mail to the newspaper Thursday that his only involvement was to advise his brother to obtain legal counsel.

White declined to discuss the case, citing the pending police inquiry.

Adams declined to comment in detail, saying: “After the election, I’ll talk to you about anything. I’ve represented Matt from the beginning. The allegations were baseless. I can’t believe police went as far as they did.”

Neither drug investigation resulted in any charges against Matthew Conway. The three officers all were involved in investigations of him when the leaks occurred.

Conway, 34, a graduate of Emory University and the University of Louisville law school, declined to be interviewed by The Courier-Journal.

But the police file shows that in response to questions by investigators last March, he said of the drug-related allegations: “It’s insane. I don’t need to traffic drugs. I have money. I have plenty. I work as a prosecutor because I like it.”

Russ, Wilson and Carthan — who also is named in the department’s pending administrative inquiry but has remained in his regular job — declined through a police department spokeswoman to answer questions. Their attorneys also refused to comment.

Commonwealth’s Attorney David Stengel said in an interview earlier this week that he had reviewed all of the evidence gathered by police and was convinced that Conway was neither a drug user nor trafficker.

Stengel said he also concluded that Conway had done nothing wrong except to make a “well-intended but boneheaded statement” when he denied to police that he had been tipped off by Russ to the second drug investigation.

Stengel said he decided not to discipline Conway for being dishonest because “he went back and corrected that immediately.” However, records show that Conway actually offered his corrected account four days later, and after another witness advised him that he had told investigators a different story.

Conway told investigators he had lied to protect Russ, because “I just didn’t wanna see him lose his job over this. And, it was foolish and I’m sorry, it is wrong, and, you know, I’m paying for it now,” the records show.

David Harris, a professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh who writes and teaches about police behavior and law enforcement, said Stengel let Conway off too easily.

“To admit you lied in an investigation where you were the subject, and it involved law-enforcement conduct, I find that very troubling,” Harris said, adding that he found it “mysterious that this wouldn’t trouble” Stengel.

Lewis Katz, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and a criminal-justice authority, agreed. Katz also said Conway’s false statements to investigators “absolutely” have impugned his integrity and, therefore, his ability to represent the state in court.

“He is hopelessly compromised,” Katz said.

The first investigation

In early 2008, Louisville police received information that Matthew Conway might be involved with illegal drugs, prompting Detective Wilson to tell Louisville attorney Scott Roby, who in turn notified Conway, the records show.

Wilson told department investigators on March 25 that he had informed Roby of the complaint against Conway because the two attorneys knew each other.

“I was asking him, ‘man, do you think this is true?’ ” Wilson said. Roby, who was not interviewed by police, declined to comment when contacted by The Courier-Journal.

Conway and Wilson, both of whom attended St. Xavier High School at about the same time and are longtime acquaintances, they told investigators.

After first evading the question, Wilson eventually acknowledged to the investigators that he allowed Conway to read the complaint accusing him of drug involvement.

Wilson also acknowledged that, after telling Conway he wanted to search his home, he waited two days to conduct the search, rather than “that day or the following day,” as he initially told investigators. Nothing incriminating was found.

Upon hearing Wilson’s admission about his handling of the case, Sgt. Rick Polin of the department’s Public Integrity Unit told him: “That’s a problem, Scott. It’s the same, in my opinion, as, as telling him, ‘hey, you know, watch your back, there’s a drug complaint on you.’ It’s kinda like, ‘clean your —-, I’ll be over there in two days.’”

When Wilson finally conducted the search, Polin said, “it stands to reason there was nothin’ there.”

Wilson said he notified Conway before searching his home because he was skeptical of the allegations. “It just seemed like it (the complaint) was a BS … domestic kind of issue,”

Conway was involved in a divorce in late 2007 and early 2008. Someone answering the telephone at a number listed for his former wife hung up when a reporter called. She did not respond to subsequent messages.

The second investigation

During a March 10 interview with investigators, Detective Russ initially denied being the source of the second leak to Matt Conway. But roughly 30 minutes after the questioning ended, Russ returned and acknowledged that he warned Conway when he encountered him in the courthouse in January:

“Matt, whatever you’re doing, you need to quit, ’cause if you don’t, you’re gonna get caught.’ And I said, ‘if you ain’t doing nothing, you don’t have nothing to worry about,’ ” according to the records.

Russ told the investigators that he had no idea why he made the disclosure to Conway, adding: “I’m sure that my working in narcotics is probably over. I just hope that my career’s not over.”

About a week before Russ met with investigators, Jack Conway received a telephone call from a supporter, businessman Charles Alexander. According to the records, he told Conway that he had been in a downtown restaurant where he heard Detective Carthan discussing the drug investigation involving Matthew Conway.

The records reflect varying accounts of what Carthan allegedly said. He told police investigators that while talking with a friend at the restaurant about the drug inquiry, he merely mentioned his investigation and said he had heard “a lot of incriminating things” about Matthew Conway.

Carthan told the investigators that he considered the investigation closed because it had already been compromised when Russ told Conway he was being investigated.

But Alexander told police that Carthan overheard him chatting with an acquaintance about fund-raising for Jack Conway, who was locked in a close primary-election campaign with Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo for the Senate.

Alexander said Carthan told them not to “waste their money” on Jack Conway, “that he had a case on Conway’s brother and that he was ‘dirty’ (corrupt),” according to the records. Alexander declined to discuss the matter with the newspaper.

Alexander then called Jack Conway, who in turn called his brother and said they needed to meet the following day, according to the records.

Adams, the attorney, also attended the meeting, at Jack Conway’s home, and it was decided that he would “report” Carthan to Chief White, the records show. Adams went to see White on the morning of March 5.

The substance of their conversation could not be determined. Police department spokeswoman Carey Klain said White would not discuss the meeting with Adams, or any related matters, while the department’s internal investigation is pending.

Adams declined to comment on the meeting.

Adams and Jack Conway had an interest in the Matthew Conway investigation before the three men met, the records show.

When police interviewed Russ on March 10, he said Adams had called him two or three weeks earlier and told him that Jack Conway wanted to know if police were working on a case involving his brother. Russ said he replied to Adams he couldn’t discuss the matter.

After that conversation, Russ said, Adams called him back two or three more times, saying, “Don’t worry about it, everything’s OK.”

Asked by investigators what he thought Adams meant, Russ said he assumed people were asking the Conways what was going on. Russ said he told Adams that if police learned he had tipped off Matthew Conway, “I’m gonna lose my job, my career, everything.”

Russ said Adams replied: “Oh, you’re fine, don’t worry about it. Everything’s good, don’t worry about it.”

Before The Courier-Journal could ask Adams about his alleged remarks to Russ, he repeated that he had no comment and hung up.

Although he was asked to discuss his knowledge of the investigation involving his brother and the meeting with Adams, Jack Conway’s statement did not address either issue.

When the newspaper renewed its request for elaboration, Allison Gardner Martin, communications director for the attorney general’s office, said Conway “does not deny” that Adams met with him and his brother. But she declined to address what Conway knew about the decision to have Adams visit White.

About Luis Miranda
The Real Agenda is an independent publication. It does not take money from Corporations, Foundations or Non-Governmental Organizations. It provides news reports in three languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese to reach a larger group of readers. Our news are not guided by any ideological, political or religious interest, which allows us to keep our integrity towards the readers.