By GARY POPP
Two Louisville residents were taken into custody by Charlestown police Thursday on suspicion of drug and check-fraud offenses.
Cynthia Weddell, 33, and Billy Ritter, 28, were the occupants in a vehicle that Charlestown Police Department officer Alex Streets stopped for a series of traffic violations, the department reported.
After making the stop, Streets reported that Weddell and Ritter were acting overly nervous during the stop.
Streets then called a narcotic K-9 team to conduct a “free-air sweep” of the outside of the vehicle, which resulted in a positive alert to driver and passenger doors.
During a subsequent interior search of the vehicle, the K-9 team made another positive alert on a laptop bag.
Police found inside the laptop bag several clear, plastic bags containing suspected heroin and several different types of drug paraphernalia.
Police also located about 36 checks, totaling just less than $15,000, that Weddell and Ritter are suspected of stealing from the mailboxes of unsuspecting victims.
Investigators said checks were taken from residents of New Albany, Floyds Knobs, Jeffersonville, Sellersburg and Clarksville.
Police reported that investigators were able to trace the couple’s last known address to a room at the Pyramid Motel in Clarksville.
With the assistance of the Clarksville Police Department, Charlestown officers conducted a search warrant at the room where additional drug paraphernalia, computer equipment and checks were located.
“It is believed the two drove around different communities targeting mailboxes that had the flag up warning postal employees that a mail pickup is needed, and then stealing the personal checks designed for bill payment and copying the check routing numbers onto a blank check made out to one of the suspects,” Charlestown Police Chief Keith McDonald said in a statement.
Ritter and Weddell were preliminarily charged with felony possession of a narcotic drug, a class D felony; maintaining a common nuisance, a class D felony; possession of drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor and false informing, a class B misdemeanor.
Police reported that additional criminal charges are expected as this case continues.
Charlestown police are asking those who believe they may be a victim in the case to call 812-256-7770.