Hailey residents Kerry and Karen Christiansen have entered guilty pleas to separate respective charges stemming from a drug raid in the Woodside subdivision last September.
Both Christiansens appeared in Fifth District Court for separate pre-trial hearings and entered the pleas through their attorneys.
Police say they seized an estimated $382,000 worth of cash and cocaine and numerous firearms at the couple’s home on Sept. 14. Early that morning, local and state law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the residence on the 1400 block of Woodside Boulevard and allegedly retrieved more than 4 pounds of cocaine, 19 rifles and handguns, large sums of cash and multiple boxes of ammunition from the home, according to an arrest affidavit from Blaine County Sheriff’s Detective Kerri Taylor.
Kerry J. Christiansen, 62, was charged with felony cocaine trafficking, two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance, felony unlawful firearm possession and felony introduction of cocaine into the Blaine County Jail. Karen H. Christiansen, 66, was charged with one count of felony cocaine possession.
At a May 11 change-of-plea hearing, Kerry Christiansen stated that he did not want further discovery or a jury trial and accepted a binding plea agreement with the court through his attorney, Public Defender Andrew Parnes.
According to that agreement—outlined at the hearing by Prosecutor Matthew Fredback—Christiansen will plead guilty to trafficking cocaine in exchange for a shorter incarceration period of five years in state prison followed by a 10-year indeterminate period in custody for a total of 15 years in custody.
Fredback would also dismiss Christiansen’s two felony cocaine possession charges and his felony charge of introducing contraband into a correctional facility as part of the agreement. Christiansen would still face a felony count of illegally possessing firearms as a felon, and would also need to pay restitution for NET team investigation costs and Idaho State Lab testing.
Fredback noted that Christiansen’s current charge of trafficking 400 grams or more of cocaine carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a $25,000 fine, but he would be amending that charge to trafficking in 200-400 grams of cocaine—which under Idaho code carries a lesser mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years and a $15,000 fine.
When asked by Judge Ned Williamson about Christiansen’s prior record, Parnes said that Christiansen has two felony drug convictions, including drug possession with intent to deliver in the early 1990s in Wyoming, for which he received six months in county jail. Parnes also requested to reduce Christiansen’s court-ordered “high” level of drug testing to “medium,” to which Fredback agreed.
At a pre-trial conference on May 15, Karen Christiansen—who also wanted to avoid a jury trial—agreed to plead guilty to felony cocaine possession in exchange for a suspended five-year sentence and two years of supervised probation, a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and mandatory substance abuse treatment.
According to Taylor’s report, police first recovered four paper-wrapped packages of cocaine inside Kerry’s green Dodge pickup. In the home office, officers allegedly found a computer desk covered in cocaine, several paper-wrapped bindles of cocaine around the computer monitor and in boxes underneath the desk, and more bottles and vacuum-sealed bags of cocaine. Twelve 4-oz. vacuum-sealed bags found under the desk totaled around 1,344 grams, or around 3 pounds of cocaine, alone, Taylor stated.
In the same office, officers allegedly seized a refrigerator-sized “Bighorn Classic” safe that contained several bank bags full of cash, 13 rifles and handguns, a large amount of ammunition, three bindles and two bags of cocaine, passports belonging to both Christiansens, and cocaine purity and cutting-agent tests, Taylor stated.
In other rooms of the home, more packages of cocaine, six additional firearms, “large” sums of cash, “snuff bullets” and two Oxycodone pills were seized, Taylor stated. Altogether, police found $302,000 in cash between the Christiansen’s home and vehicles. In a phone call, Hailey Police Chief Steve England estimated the cocaine to be worth at least $80,000 and said the couple had been monitored by members of the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team “for a while.”
Karen Christiansen will return to Fifth District Court for sentencing with attorney Anthony Michael Valdez on July 24 at 10:30 a.m. Kerry Christiansen is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 21 at 10:30 a.m. ￼