HANCOCK COUNTY — A former Indiana police officer accused of serving as a bodyguard in a drug-manufacturing ring is headed to trial next week, officials said.
Jason Woods, 44, 7966 Creek Ridge Drive, Brownsburg, a former Hendricks County sheriff’s deputy, used his marked patrol car to take drugs and supplies to and from the ring’s manufacturing locations, including in Hancock County, according to court documents. He was regularly seen at a home in the 4500 block of South County Road 650W in New Palestine where more than $3 million worth of synthetic marijuana was confiscated during a raid in October 2013 raid, officials said.
Woods is scheduled to appear in Hancock Circuit Court next week, where a jury of county residents will decide if he is guilty of the six felony charges he faces, including bribery, assisting a criminal and official misconduct.
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Woods’ arrest in January 2015 was a new development in a joint investigation by the Indiana State Police and Homeland Security that dates back to 2013. In October 2013, officers raided two properties: a New Palestine home where synthetic marijuana, or Spice, was manufactured and an Indianapolis warehouse where the drugs were packaged and distributed, court documents state.
Investigators say both locations were operated by Robert Jaynes and Kirk Parsons, two Indianapolis men accused of running the drug-manufacturing ring and who were convicted of federal drug charges. The raid at the New Palestine home led to 12 people being charged with drug-related offenses in Hancock County.
Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said the state has assembled a list of nearly 20 witnesses, consisting of the state and federal investigators who worked the case, along with Woods’ co-defendants, many of whom gave statements implicating Woods, official said.
Witnesses told police Woods — who lost his police job during the investigation — regularly parked his patrol car outside the New Palestine home; drove behind trucks moving drugs, paraphernalia and manufacturing materials; and traveled with the ring’s leaders to other states as a bodyguard because his police badge allowed him to carry a gun on a plane, court documents state.
Employees at businesses near the Indianapolis warehouse were interviewed by police after the property was raided and told investigators they thought the activity there was suspicious “but assumed it was legitimate due to seeing the police car at the location on several occasions,” court documents state.
Woods faces: one Class C felony count of corrupt business influence; one Class D felony count of dealing a synthetic drug; one Class D felony count of conspiracy to commit dealing; one Class C felony count of bribery; one Class D felony count of official misconduct; and one Class D felony count of assisting a criminal.
The trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Hancock Circuit Court with Judge Richard Culver overseeing the proceedings, records show. Eaton expects the case could carry into a second week. The proceedings are open to the public.
Woods is represented by Harold Ansell of Indianapolis. He did not return a call for comment.