Alaska lawyer charged, arrested for smuggling drugs to client in Anchorage jail
An Anchorage defense attorney was arrested Wednesday after an FBI investigation alleges that she had been smuggling drugs to her client, who was imprisoned at the Anchorage Correctional Complex (ACC).
Kit Lee Karjala, 54, was acting as a criminal defense lawyer at the time of the alleged conspiracy to smuggle drugs. Christopher Miller, 33, was Karjala’s client on multiple cases, including those involving felony assault, vehicle theft, drug possession, and resisting arrest.
Richard Fuller, the special agent in charge of the investigation, wrote a signed affidavit presenting the charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute against Karjala and Miller, that spanned from "as early as June 2016 and no later than December 2016, and continuing until the present."
In the report, Fuller said that Karjala smuggled drug packages containing opioids such as heroin and Suboxone (a narcotic opioid containing buprenorphine and naloxone) to Miller during attorney-client visitation sessions.
During these visits, the two met in a room without a dividing barrier, and Fuller said that Karjala passed the package to Miller, her client. During the course of the meetings, the report states, Karjala allegedly reaches up her pant leg, and places “an item” between two stacks of paperwork.
Fuller writes that this is done while purposefully obscuring herself from the security camera’s view.
Once these items are hidden between stacks of paperwork, Karjala was observed handing them to Miller, who then did a series of maneuvers that investigators called ‘"movement is consistent with him secreting something in his anal cavity.”
In an agent’s note made in the report, Fuller states that inmates commonly hide contraband this way. After the interactions, of which there were four detailed by Fuller, Miller was strip searched and no drugs were found in his possession. However, Fuller notes, “No search was conducted of [Miller’s] anal cavity.”
After the third meeting on March 16, Miller was taken in for an x-ray after FBI agents obtained a federal search warrant for his body.
At this time, “the doctor advised agents the x-rays did not show any items in Miller’s digestive or anal area.”
Despite this scrutiny, Karjala continued to meet with Miller, even e-mailing AAC personnel stating she does not want Miller to be x-rayed again or “dry celled,” meaning put in a room without plumbing until he passes objects. Karjala says “I don’t want paperwork mistaken for contraband” and asks “should I shake [the paperwork] out before handing it to him?”
Following the fourth meeting detailed by the FBI officer, Miller was segregated for suspicion of contraband and was placed in a dry cell.
While in the dry cell, the report states that Miller told DOC employees that “it would be trouble and new charges” if he gave up any objects he was possessing.
Miller reportedly expelled several objects while under observation, including objects’ with an “appearance consistent with Suboxone strips” as well as “a balloon with band aids attached to it and two small plastic jars that contained a putty like brown substance” which later tested positive for heroin.
In a release made by the District Attorney, he says that several factors including money transfers back up the claim that Miller had been “distributing the drugs to other ACC inmates for profit.”