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Army Chemical School employee caught with 51.7 grams of cocaine

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 16, 2010) — It took more than a year after her arrest to file charges, but a civilian employee of the Army’s chemical school at Fort Leonard Wood now faces Class B felony drug possession charges accusing her of accepting delivery of 51.7 grams of cocaine on Nov. 21 of last year, with intent to distribute the controlled substance.

The charges against Deneen A. Lee, 46, carry a sentence of five to 15 years in state prison. She’s retained local attorney Mark Prugh; on Dec. 7 her attorney waived formal arraignment, entered a plea of innocent, and requested a continuance — a temporary delay of further court action — because “she and her attorney are presently investigating the allegations,” according to court documents.

Fort Leonard Wood public affairs personnel confirmed Wednesday that Lee was a civilian employee at what is formally known as the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School, but weren’t immediately able to confirm her GS level or job duties. In 2007, Lee was an instructional design specialist working in training development at the chemical school. Due to the use of potentially deadly chemical agents, the chemical school has some of the stricter security clearance requirements on Fort Leonard Wood. It’s not clear what she was doing for the installation when she was charged this month, but it appears she continued to work on Fort Leonard Wood long after her initial arrest.

The case waited more than a year to be filed by Pulaski County Prosecutor Deborah Hooper. Sheriff J.B. King said he used the federal Department of Justice drug laboratories to confirm the substance found with Lee was cocaine and avoid the long delays which have become common due to backlogs in Missouri drug labs; the federal drug lab returned the results within about 60 days of her initial arrest in November of last year.

Court records show that Pulaski County Prosecutor Deborah Hooper filed charges on Dec. 3 of this year against Lee, who now lives on Stamper Road outside the Waynesville city limits. However, she’s a former resident of an address inside the Waynesville city limits, and on Nov. 21 of last year, a package showed up at that address intended for her and not the person now living there.

“(The resident of the Waynesville address) reported she received a package from the U.S. Post Office which was sitting on her front porch and she took it inside and opened the package thinking it was sent by her mother,” according to a probable cause statement filed by a sheriff’s department detective. “The resident said she found what appeared to be powdered narcotics in the package and she called the Waynesville (police) immediately and turned the items over … (she) stated Ms. Lee came to her address and asked if a package had arrived there with her name on it. The resident told her no and the woman showed the resident a check with the name of Deneen A. Lee and the address (to which the drugs had been delivered). Ms. Lee said she used to live there five years ago.”

The Waynesville resident turned that information over to police as well. Waynesville police and a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent repackaged a small amount of the drugs with an inert agent into the box, resealed it, and returned it to the resident, who called a number Lee had left for her in case the package arrived. Lee said she would come to the Waynesville residence within 10 minutes; she arrived in less than that time, picked up the package, and was subsequently arrested by Waynesville police for traffic offenses which gave the officers legal grounds to stop her. After a drug dog alerted on Lee’s car, she was arrested, said she had “received a call from a man she did not know and could not identify over the phone and the man told her to go to her old address and pick up a package” but denied knowing the contents of the package.

“Ms. Lee acted surprised at the contents and again stated she did not know what was in the package,” according to court documents. She then refused to allow officers to look at her telephone call records, asked for an attorney, and invoked her right not to speak further with police.

Federal drug enforcement laboratory results later confirmed that the package contained 51.7 grams of cocaine hydrochloride. A sheriff’s detective with several decades of military and civilian law enforcement experience wrote that he had “observed people in the narcotics business use alternative addresses to ship narcotics to avoid detection.”

Additional information on the probable cause statement indicates that Lee “has travelled to various states recently as evidenced by receipts in (her) purse” and said she was suicidal when she was processed into the county jail.

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