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January 7, 2014

IN-DEPTH LOOK: Clark County court personnel under investigation

Intimidation, abuse of power allegations made



Intimidation and the impersonation of law enforcement is how the director of a Jeffersonville halfway house described the presence of Knoebel and Snelling during a late-night field visit to his establishment in September.

Jerry Westmoreland, the director of Jerry’s Place Recovery House, located on Eighth Street, said Knoebel and Snelling came to Jerry’s Place about 10:30 p.m. in late September, but he wasn’t sure of the exact date.

“My house manager called me and said that Knoebel and Jeremy [Snelling] were there checking on the guys,” Westmoreland said.

Of the nearly 25 men who reside at Jerry’s Place — all with histories of drug or alcohol abuse — Westmoreland said Knoebel and Snelling were only interested in about five residents, all participants of the Clark County Drug Court Treatment Program.

All the men were away from the home, with permission from Westmoreland, at the time of Knoebel and Snelling’s arrival. Westmoreland explained that he rewards his clients’ good behavior by providing passes that allow them to be away from the facility, but Knoebel and Snelling took issue with his rules.

“This is their [Knoebel and Snelling’s] deal. They try to run my program. If I think someone deserves a pass, if they earn a pass, I will give them a pass,” Westmoreland said. “Well, they didn’t like it. So, they called them [the participants] back [to the facility].”

Westmoreland said he became upset after Knoebel and Snelling told him told him how to operate his program.

He said Knoebel and Snelling wore badges and carried firearms onto the property in what he says was an act of intimidation. He said his other non-drug court clients in the home at the time also found Knoebel and Snelling’s actions to be threatening.

Knoebel has said that she does not agree with Westmoreland’s characterization of her and Snelling at his facility.

“To my knowledge, no. I have never felt that I have intimidated Mr. Westmoreland,” Knoebel said. “Every visit I have had with Mr. Westmoreland has been cordial, and I have never impersonated a police officer. Not to any halfway house director. Not to any halfway house. To anyone.”

Westmoreland said all of the participants, excluding Hendrick, returned to Jerry’s Place after they were contacted by phone. Westmoreland said he had explained to Knoebel and Snelling that Hendrick’s cell phone was broken, offered them an alternative number to reach Hendrick, and told them he knew where Hendrick was located at the time.

Westmoreland said the two told him, “I don’t care. We are going to revoke him.”

Westmoreland said he regularly works closely with court officials and receives clients from all four Clark County Circuit courts in addition to Floyd, Harrison, Scott and Washington counties and Kentucky, but has only experienced, what he considers, intimidation tactics with officials from Clark County Circuit Court No. 2.

No one was taken into custody during Knoebel’s and Snelling’s visit to Jerry’s Place, and Westmoreland said, nearly three months later, he still isn’t sure why they visited his establishment.

“That’s what I could not understand, what their purpose was,” Westmoreland said. “They [Knoebel and Snelling] have a real problem wanting to intimate people, from what I hear. But, I have seen it. After I seen it, myself, I believe it.

“I am in the business of helping other people. But, I can’t help them if those type of people are going to intimidate them.”

Westmoreland said that two days after the visit, he was contacted by Knoebel and Snelling and told them that Hendrick had returned to Jerry’s Place before his curfew two nights before.

“He did everything he was supposed to do in my program,” Westmoreland said of Hendrick.

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