Transcripts of telephone calls and text messages to and from the phone of a former Knoxville Police Department officer indicate he not only bought and sold drugs on duty but while at police headquarters, prosecutors say.
Knox County prosecutors on Monday filed a portion of the transcripts of several thousand calls and text messages from Joshua Hurst’s phone, recorded in April over six weeks while the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation kept Hurst, 38, under surveillance, tapping his phone and trailing him to various locations.
The transcripts were introduced as part of the state’s response to a motion by Mark Gilbertson, also charged in the case, to reduce bond. Gilbertson, 46, and Hurst were among eight people charged with distributing prescription painkillers in Knox and other counties across East and Middle Tennessee.
Also charged were Milbern Breeden Jr., 51, of Knoxville; Erin Keenan, 41, of Knoxville; Pamela Moretta, 43, of Knoxville; Trevor Loy, 37, of Wartburg, Tenn.; Gilbertson’s brother, Paul Gilbertson, 44, of Knoxville; and Hurst’s brother, Jacob Hurst, 35, of Clarksville.
The state argued that Mark Gilbertson’s criminal record — which includes one felony and 10 misdemeanors — and history of failing to appear in court should be considered.
Assistant District Attorney General Sean McDermott filed 40 pages of transcripts from Hurst’s phone listing “multiple occasions” on which “conspirators discussed the sale and delivery of pills,” and said the state plans to introduce hours of additional calls and hundreds of pages of text messages and transcripts at trial to “prove the existence of the conspiracy.”
“During the period of time when the wiretap was being monitored, thousands of incriminating statements were made by members of the conspiracy outlining the course, nature and extent of this drug-dealing enterprise,” McDermott wrote. “Agents were able to observe drug transactions as they took place in real time. … Investigators determined that conspirators possessed controlled substances with the intent to further distribute those drugs at various locations in Knox County, including the Knoxville Police Department headquarters.”
The transcripts suggest Mark Gilbertson was a source of prescription pain pills, supplying them to Hurst, who then delivered them to others. The calls included Hurst referencing his working “desk duty” and using his resources as a KPD officer to get information for other defendants.
Court records allege Hurst confiscated heroin, methamphetamine, prescription narcotics and driver’s licenses from people on the street, then passed them to drug dealers, sometimes in exchange for pain pills he used himself.
Hurst’s police powers were suspended when the investigation began, KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk said, and he resigned in April after a grand jury indicted him on three counts of conspiracy to deliver oxycodone in a drug-free zone; three counts of conspiracy to distribute oxymorphone in a drug-free zone; delivery of methamphetamine; four counts of official misconduct; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.
During his 13-year career, Hurst had received accolades but also was disciplined for such violations as discourtesy and unsatisfactory performance.