MDOC employee among arrests in Muskegon Co. drug bust

Left to right: Alfonzo Dewayne Johnson, James Kitchen and DeMarco Knox.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan prison employee is among three people arrested in a drug bust in metro Muskegon where police say they nabbed kilos of drugs.

James Kitchen is a 51-year-old divorced father of one who says he has worked for 16 years for the Michigan Department of Corrections. Now he is the one facing time behind bars.

On Sunday, Michigan State Police out of the Grand Haven and Rockford posts arrested Kitchen and two other men. All three are now charged with delivery/manufacturing of cocaine or heroin and methamphetamine.

Kitchen, a graduate of Muskegon Heights High School, was arrested at his home in a tidy Muskegon neighborhood, police say. He is held on a $1 million bond in Muskegon County Jail.

Demarco Knox, 38, was arrested the same day in the affluent Muskegon Heights neighborhood where he lives, according to court records. He is charged with delivery and manufacture of a lesser amount than his co-defendants and therefore faces a maximum of 47 years in prison while the other two face life sentences. His bond is $1.5 million.

Police say 43-year-old Alfonzo Johnson was arrested at the corner of Columbia Avenue and Getty Street in Muskegon Heights. His bond is $2 million.

Johnson has a felony record that includes home invasion and drug possession. Knox has a previous conviction for possession of a sawed-off shot gun more than 20 years ago, court records say.

On his court paperwork, Kitchen claims he has worked for the MDOC for 16 years. Other prison employees say he worked at the West Shoreline facility, where he investigated prisoner complaints.

A MDOC spokesperson said there is no reason to believe any drugs were sold at the prison, but an investigation is underway. Kitchen is now on unpaid suspension.

Kitchen and Knox are also charged with felony gun possession, which would add two years to their sentences if they are convicted.

The three suspects are set to return to court on March 15.