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Courtroom security increased after contraband found

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Restroom in jury room being used to exchange contraband

By Linda Ireland

 Security has been tightened in LaRue County courtrooms after an inmate was discovered with contraband – immediately after a court appearance – earlier this month.

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Jason Kitzero, 36, of Buffalo, was lodged at the LaRue County Detention Center following his arrest for manufacturing methamphetamine. Kitzero was present at an April 1 house fire believed to have been started by an exploding meth lab.

Kitzero now faces a charge of promoting contraband after jail deputies found a large package of tobacco on his person during a search. 

LaRue County Deputy Eric Williamson said he received a tip that someone was going to place a package for an inmate inside a restroom off the district courtroom. A camera was placed in the room.

“We were watching the live feed,” said Williamson.

Michael Austin Underwood, 45, of Mount Sherman, was captured on video at 7:30 a.m. entering the restroom and placing something under a sink. He was detained by officers.

“During a search, we found a needle (syringe) with meth residue on it on him,” said Williamson. “We left the package in (the restroom).”

Underwood was charged with promoting contraband; possession of controlled substance (meth), second offense, and buy or possession of drug paraphernalia.

Kitzero was arraigned in the district courtroom an hour later. He asked to use the restroom and allegedly pocketed the package of tobacco that Underwood had left for him. Deputies relieved him of the package before he re-entered the detention center.

After Kitzero’s arrest, both men were brought before District Judge C. Derek Reed who charged them with contempt and had some choice words for their actions, said Williamson.

Judge Reed, along with Circuit Judges Charles Simms III and John David Seay, have been tightening security around the courthouse since the incident, said Williamson. Rooms used in the court process are being locked and inmates are being searched after court appearances.

LaRue County Jailer Johnny Cottrill said it is “really not that unusual” for someone to try to smuggle contraband into the jail.

“They will try to get it to an inmate any way they can,” he said.

Underwood was indicted earlier this year for receiving stolen property valued at $10,000 or more. He is being held on $25,000 bond.