Federal trial begins in Evansville for accused Indy drug kingpin Richard Grundy III

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UPDATE (12:16 p.m.): The court has called 99 potential jurors. A handful of them admitted they’d read some accounts about the Grundy case. Many were quizzed on whether they’d been affected by drug crimes.

One potential juror whose relative had been convicted of a drug crime told the judge, “Oh yeah, he deserved it.”

When asked if she could be impartial in the Grundy case, she answered, “They’ve been busy bees.”

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The trial of a man accused of running a major Indianapolis drug ring begins in Evansville this morning.

Richard Grundy III “was the alleged leader of a drug trafficking organization that operated in Indianapolis,” according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney in Indianapolis on Nov. 20, 2017. “Grundy and other individuals…pooled their money to obtain methamphetamine from sources in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. The methamphetamine was then transported to Indianapolis, stored in ‘stash houses’ for the Grundy organization and later distributed.”

The arrests of Grundy and 20 other people came as the result of a federal investigation after local detectives and Marion County prosecutors had failed in two previous attempts to link Grundy to more than a dozen murders going back to 2013.

In the intervening years, Grundy spent several months in jail awaiting trial, was convicted of a drug charge in Texas and survived an assassination attempt as he attended funeral services for a slain cousin at a north side cemetery.

Grundy’s trial was set to begin earlier this month in federal court in Indianapolis but was declared a mistrial after a list of anonymous jurors’ names was discovered in his cell at the Marion County Jail.

Grundy has a history of posting social media messages and videos threatening retribution against informants who cooperate with authorities while witnesses have disappeared or recanted testimonies and associates were sometimes murdered.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus Stinson moved Grundy’s case to U.S. District Court in Evansville to secure a jury unfamiliar with the previous charges against the defendant and, in effect, remove Grundy from his home region of support and influence in Indianapolis while still retaining jurisdiction in the Southern District of Indiana.

Four other men are also on trial. A majority of those arrested along with Grundy in the fall of 2017 have pleaded guilty and some may be called to testify. If convicted of the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering charges, Grundy could face a sentence of life in prison.

Such a term was clearly on his mind last week as Grundy unsuccessfully filed a motion that would have permitted the defendant to act as his own attorney.

“I don’t want to be laying on my bunk wondering if I made the right decision,” Grundy told the judge as he begrudgingly agreed with her advice to retain counsel. “I got a lot of familiarity with criminal cases.”

Jury selection begins this morning with opening statements expected Tuesday and the trial set to last six weeks.

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