Testimony details alleged schemes

Published 10:42 am Monday, March 31, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
Prosecutors last week began unraveling the threads of evidence that led to Mike Haveard's indictment on charges of drug trafficking and theft - while his attorney expressed skepticism over the witnesses, some of whom have been charged themselves in the alleged schemes.
Haveard, charged with four counts of possession of a controlled substance, four counts of distribution of a controlled substance and four counts of first degree criminal solicitation to commit theft, had requested a hearing to reduce his $8 million bond.
Nearly seven hours of testimony over the two-day bond hearing unveiled more details of the alleged crimes and gave Haveard supporters an opportunity to defend him.
Family members and friends focused on the idea that Haveard would not flee - and that he was not a violent man.
Defense witnesses Carla Haynes, Donna Lambeth, Candace Wright and Ryan Smith, all gave similar character testimony on behalf of Haveard.
Some testified about help that Haveard had given them when they needed money or a place to stay.
And the witnesses all agreed they didn't believe Haveard would be a flight risk if bond were lowered to an attainable amount.
But agent Greg Forbes of the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force unit played a CD of jailhouse recordings between Haveard's girlfriend, Lori Neal, and Haveard, before Haveard himself was arrested.
The recording played in the courtroom included this exchange:
Neal: “Where's the Navigator?”
Haveard: “Hid.”
Neal: “What? Why? You gonna take off?”
Haveard: (chuckle) “I got a tank of gas. It's ready to go.”
White later argued that it was impossible to determine that Haveard had not made those statements in jest, and he pointed out that Haveard could have fled at that time, since he was not in custody.
Forbes testified authorities had seized the Navigator and recovered a large amount of cash in the vehicle.
Forbes also testified that other monitored conversations with Haveard indicated that he would be a danger to others involved in the case.
Goff was assaulted at the Escambia County Dentention Center after being questioned by law enforcement officers, Forbes said.
Payments in drugs?
In an effort to show the seriousness of the charges against Haveard, prosecution witnesses testified about alleged Haveard's alleged drug activity - from distribution for money to distribution to employees.
Forbes testified that the task force set up and monitored controlled buys of Oxycontin, a powerful pain reliever often abused by its addicts, at Haveard's residence at 306 Stallworth St. and at U-Ride Auto Sales, a car lot at which Haveard has worked and which is owned by his son.
The controlled buys at U-Ride Auto Sales and the residence on Stallworth Street were conducted within 3 miles of a school and a public housing project, Forbes testified.
Prosecutors later pointed out that those circumstances would warrant a higher bond on the charges because they could add 10 years to the total possible sentence on each of the four charges of possession and four charges of distribution of a controlled substance.
Employees Ricky Joyner, who said he did carpenter work at many of the rental properties owned by Haveard or his family members, testified that Haveard paid him in Oxycontin pills and cash nearly every day.
Joyner said he had his own prescription for Oxycontin but needed more pills to relieve his pain. He also testified he that sometimes sold part of his prescription pills to Haveard.
Wayne Crutchfield testified that he met Haveard because of Crutchfield's Oxycontin habit.
Bad check scheme
Crutchfield testified about a scheme to use bad checks to buy building materials - mainly at Florida home improvement stores - which Haveard allegedly bought to use in his rental properties.
Crutchfield said Haveard had loaned him $100 to start a checking account, and that Crutchfield spent about three weeks in December 2007 visiting home improvement stores every day, two or three times a day, to stockpile tools, small appliances and other materials.
Crutchfield said when his printed checks arrived, Haveard began making lists of items to purchase in Florida.
Crutchfield said Haveard paid him in Oxycontin pills and cash, with the value being 30 cents on the dollar for the materials he purchased.
But defense attorney White asked Crutchfield - who is currently in jail - if he hoped to be treated more leniently in exchange for his testimony.
Crutchfield said he did not expect better treatment.
White also pointed out that Haveard would have had no access to Crutchfield's checking account.
Crutchfield testified that he believed Haveard knew the checks were bad and that Haveard gave him gas money to travel to Florida every day.
Two merchants also testified about thousands of dollars worth of materials stolen from their businesses through worthless checks.
Clint Patterson with Bondurant testified the Century, Fla., location of the hardware chain accepted four checks from Wayne Crutchfield.
Patterson also testified the checks taken from Crutchfield at the Century location totaled $3,895. Checks taken from Donald Goff, also named in the indictments, totaled $1,835 and were taken at the Brewton location of Bondurant.
Elsie Butler testified on behalf of Swift Supply as to checks taken for materials witnesses claimed they sold to Haveard.
Bobby Haynes also testified about using bad checks to buy building materials, but he said Haveard was just one of several people to whom he sold the materials and that Haveard did not help him set up a checking account. Haynes testified that Haveard paid him cash for the materials.
But under cross-examination from White, Haynes said he did not know whether Haveard knew the materials were stolen. And he said Haveard did not help him set up the scheme.
Alleged threats
Crutchfield testified that he has been in lockdown custody at the Escambia County Detention Center since he began cooperating with investigators in the Haveard case, and Haynes testified that Haveard's sister, Ramona Haveard Smith, hit him and threatened him after Haveard was arrested.