Ex-MDOC officer sentenced for drug trafficking

James Kitchen
James Kitchen in court on April 12, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A former state prison employee from Muskegon will spend two years behind bars for his role in a drug trafficking ring.

On Friday, a federal judge in Grand Rapids sentenced James Kitchen to 24 months in prison for each of three charges: conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, distributing a controlled substance and money laundering. The three sentences will run concurrently, which means Kitchen will actually spend only two years in prison. That will be followed by three years of supervised release.

Kitchen was convicted of the three charges in November. He was also found not guilty of a related weapons charge.

Federal prosecutors say he and four other men conspired for more than two years to bring cocaine and meth from Mexico to West Michigan.

The operation was busted in March 2017, when Kitchen and two others were arrested. As they searched the men’s homes, authorities found eight kilos of cocaine and four kilos of crystal meth.

Shortly thereafter, Kitchen was suspended without pay from his job at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon.

The other two men arrested in the bust, Alfonzo Johnson and Demarco Knox, eventually pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges. Johnson was sentenced in January to 30 years in prison and Knox was sentenced in December to 10 years.

The two other men involved the trafficking ring, Devanda Montgomery and Alvin Rone, were sentenced in federal court last month. Montgomery was ordered to spend three years in prison and serve three years of supervised release. Rone was sentenced to one month behind bars and one year of supervised release.