Mackey pleads not guilty

Former Indiana recruit Bud Mackey has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges, according to The Lexington Herald-Leader. He’ll next be in court on Nov. 6.

Mackey’s lawyer refused to comment on the case after the hearing.

I wrote a story on Mackey for today’s paper, which I will post below. It’s long, but maybe you can print it out.


Falling star
Former IU recruit Bud Mackey faces uncertain future after crack cocaine arrest

By Chris Korman 331-4353 |
October 16, 2007


Crack facts

  • Made by “cooking” powder cocaine with a base, such as baking soda.
  • It is then broken into, and sold in, rock form.
  • Users gain an intense high smoking crack.
  • Is highly addictive, and eventually renders most users unable to function in society.
  • A large crack rock sells for about $50, while smaller rocks are $10-20 depending on the market.
  • Bud Mackey was carrying 1.6 grams of crack cocaine in his shoe when he was arrested.
  • He told police he was delivering it to an undisclosed person, meaning he could have been acting as a mule.
  • Mackey had two large rocks and three small rocks on him, putting the total value of the stash around $150.

What awaits Mackey

  • Jonathan “Bud” Mackey has a preliminary hearing on his two felony charges at 1 p.m. today.
  • Prosecutors are expected to proceed based on Mackey’s level of cooperation.
  • If convicted of the current charges against him, Mackey could face 6-15 years in jail.

Bud Mackey career timeline

Jonathan .Bud. Mackey moved to Scott County (Ky.) from Cincinnati with his mother when he was in seventh grade.
He began his career with the Scott County Cardinals by playing varsity as a freshman in 2004.
Between his sophomore and junior years, Mackey grew several inches and gained interest from Division I schools.
Then-Kentucky coach Tubby Smith was the first to offer him a scholarship during the summer of 2006.
Mackey later attended an Elite Camp at Indiana, during which head coach Kelvin Sampson offered him a scholarship.
Mackey went to Hoosier Hysteria in Bloomington on Oct. 13, 2006. A week later, he gave a verbal commitment to Sampson.
Mackey was moved from shooting guard to point guard in his senior season at Scott County, which was ranked No. 1 to start the season.
The Cardinals split a two-game series with Huntington (W.Va.), one of the top high school teams in the nation led by current USC guard O.J. Mayo and Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson.
Mackey scored nine of his team.s 12 points in the final 3:50 of its come-from-behind 56-50 win against Louisville Ballard in the state title game. He finished with 22 points and was named MVP of the tournament.
Following a season when the Cardinals went 34-2 and did not lose to a Kentucky high school team, Mackey had knee surgery and was unable to participate in high-level summer camps, although he was invited.
He did heal in time to play with the incoming IU recruits during a barnstorming tour game in New Albany, scoring eight points.
Mackey could have signed his letter-of-intent with Indiana on Nov. 14.

Former Indiana University basketball recruit Bud Mackey tucks his jersey in before leaving the lockerroom for practice at top-ranked Scott County (Ky.) High School last December. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
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Bud Mackey was found outside Scott County High School (below) smelling like marijuana and in possession of crack cocaine on Sept. 28. His arrest papers listed a duplex (left) in Georgetown, Ky., as his residence. Chris Korman | Herald-Times
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On the day he led them to the promised land last spring, Jonathan “Bud” Mackey wore Indiana socks into Rupp Arena.

Playing with torn cartilage in his knee and on the court of a program he had spurned for one of its biggest rivals, the 6-4 guard scored 22 points — 20 in the second half — to lead his team to a state title.

He was named MVP of the tournament.

“I just kept telling myself, ‘Bud, you have to lead these guys to the promised land,’” he told reporters after the game.

Seven months later, an assistant principal at Scott County went looking for Mackey, who was not in his English class.

He found Mackey outside of the school. Mackey smelled like marijuana.

Once inside the office, Mackey was searched for drugs.

Nothing in his pockets, or his bag.

Then, he took of his shoes.

Inside, there were five crack rocks and $29 in cash.

He spent that night, Friday, Sept. 28, in jail.

Before the 2006-07 basketball season had even begun, Mackey gave a verbal commitment to play basketball at Indiana University. His pledge went — by current standards — largely unnoticed by Hoosiers fans anxious to see what new coach Kelvin Sampson could do with the program.

At Hoosier Hysteria — on Oct. 13, 2006 — they had chanted “Er-ic Gor-don” over and over, directing it as much at Sampson as the shy guard from Indianapolis, who was sitting courtside. Because here was something Sampson had already done: convinced the best basketball player in the state to play for Indiana.

Bud Mackey was also in the crowd that night, and was important to Sampson in a way that few people in the gym realized.

Sampson had basically discovered Mackey — who spent part of his childhood in Cincinnati and had only played in a few AAU tournaments growing up — during a camp over the summer. Sampson was not allowed to go off campus to recruit because of NCAA sanctions, so he instructed his assistants to bring as many quality players to Bloomington as they could. They managed to attract Mackey and several teammates to Assembly Hall for a few hours.

To hear Mackey and his high school coach Billy Hicks tell the story — which is the only option, since Sampson is not allowed to discuss high school players — Sampson did not take long to decide that he wanted Mackey. It took, in fact, only a matter of hours.

Mackey, as much as any player Sampson has attempted to bring to Indiana, fits the mold of the type of player that Sampson not only tries to build his team around but admires. Sampson even compared Mackey to Hollis Price, the point guard on Sampson’s only Final Four team and arguably the most notable player from his tenure as coach of the Sooners. Mackey is taller and more diverse than Price, but that is not what Sampson sees when he looks at a basketball player. What matters to him is how a player plays: how he hustles and rebounds and handles himself between plays. In those ways, Mackey was as earnestly intense as Price.

So when Bud Mackey gave a verbal commitment to Sampson on Oct. 19, 2006, he said this to The Herald-Times: “Coach Sampson told me I was his guy. He said he likes me more as a person than a player.”

There is little doubt this is true, as almost anyone who knows Mackey will tell you that he in unendingly likeable. To adults he often ends his sentences with “sir” or “ma’am.” Other than that, he is quiet and often his easy smile does the work of expressing what he means.

Followers of the Scott County program often tell stories of Mackey off the court instead of on it. During the 2005-06 season, the Cardinals, who were ranked No. 1 in the state, lost two straight games. After the second game, Mackey waited until his teammates had all left the locker room and then hugged Hicks.

“Sorry, coach,” he said.

Sampson probably came to know that Mackey well enough. But one of the many hidden truths of college recruiting is that coaches barely get to really know the players they are courting. Their contact with them consists of a few phone calls, a couple of on-campus visits, one in-home visit and other scattered contact.

And Bud Mackey, it seems, might be more difficult to understand than many kids.

Horse farms and open fields line the roads heading into Georgetown, Ky., the county seat of Scott County.

The scenery could be used for a movie set 50 years in the past except for the steady stream of construction vehicles, which are being used for tasks ranging from widening those roads to building new homes.

Those houses rise in vinyled splendor along the bypass that encircles the town. In the morning, a steady stream of traffic flows out of the neighborhood, southbound to office buildings in Lexington.

The county experienced 38 percent growth during the 1990s, as the population went from 23,876 to 33,061. That growth has continued through the 2000s. The county now has an estimated 42,000 residents.

But the character of the area is still influenced heavily by the small-town feel of Georgetown, where Main Street and Broadway converge and the rest of the town emanates from there.

Mackey has a hearing at the Scott County Court House — a towering brick building that serves as the centerpiece of that intersection — at 1 p.m. today. The jail where he stayed for one night — before being freed on a $10,000 cash bond — is only a few hundred yards away.

Scott County High School is two miles up the road and rests atop a hill. It is surrounded by two quiet neighborhoods and a pair of sprawling parks.

Students who know Bud Mackey have been reluctant to talk to the media about him since his arrest. As with many star athletes, he has been a divisive figure among the student body. Some students who agreed to speak under the condition of anonymity said that Mackey was exceedingly kind and did not abuse his status as a star athlete; others complained that Mackey has been getting preferential treatment for most of his career.

Hicks, who could not be reached by The Herald-Times, discussed his disappointment in what had happened.

“It tears your heart out,” he told the Georgetown News-Graphic. “It’s like someone sticking a dagger in your heart.”

During an interview last year, Hicks echoed Sampson and praised Mackey for being an upstanding young man.

At that time, though, Mackey was having academic troubles, according to both published reports and sources in Georgetown.

“Bud has come a long way in the last three years behavior-wise,” Hicks told the News-Graphic. “He’d been in special (education) all the way up until last year and he got out of special ed. He’s come a long way.”

Mackey was known to cut classes, though, and there had been past instances in which school officials could not find him.

Mackey has also committed several traffic violations in the past.

At the beginning of last year’s basketball season, Mackey said he had moved in with an older relative, Chris Johnson, because he needed a strong male influence in his life.

“He’s showed me how to be responsible,” he told The Herald-Times last December. “My grades are better. I work harder, sir.”

But to many who know Mackey, it was unclear where he lived on a day-to-day basis. On the citation for his arrest, he lists an address for which a telephone line that has since been disconnected is registered to his mother, Erica Mackey.

Bud Mackey and his mother moved to Georgetown from Cincinnati when he was in seventh grade to be closer to his grandparents. He has spent time living with them, too.

Since his arrest, Mackey has not spoken publicly. Multiple attempts to reach Mackey or a member of his family by The Herald-Times were unsuccessful. No one answered the door at his listed address, which is located in a neighborhood of government-subsidized houses in the southeast part of Georgetown. Despite being located next to the current police station, that area of town has been plagued with drug problems.

Eric Greenlief has grown a bushy beard, but his head is still shaved. Dressed in blue jeans and a bright yellow Nike shirt, he looks like anything but a cop.

Which is, given his new assignment, his goal.

Greenlief, a nine-year veteran of the Georgetown Police force, was put in charge of the newly-created narcotics division about four months ago. The task force is the result of new mayor Karen Tingle-Sames’ desire to curb drug use and distribution.

It was Greenlief who got the call on Friday afternoon to drive to Scott County High School. The school has a resource officer assigned to it, but Greenlief was needed to conduct a field test on a drug.

That was not too unusual.

Until Greenlief heard that the drug was crack cocaine.

“We just don’t find rock cocaine at the schools, or even really with people that young,” he said. “We make about 15 arrests a month (for crack), but I can’t remember ever making one at the school.”

When Greenlief arrived at the school he saw that officials had discovered a bag containing five rocks. They tested positive as being crack cocaine.

Mackey had 1.6 grams of crack cocaine on him. He told police that he was delivering it to an unidentified person, and he was therefore charged with two felonies: first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (cocaine), first offense, a Class C felony, and trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school, a Class D felony.

Greenlief could not discuss the details of Mackey’s case. He did say that it is not unusual for a mule to carry drugs from a dealer who imports them in large amounts to a dealer who actually sells them on the street.

“Usually, the bigger dealers will not want to get involved with it too much,” Greelief said. “They try to create separation from the dealer on the street.”

The mule, Greelief said, is usually paid in drugs, not money.

“They might get a cut of one of the rocks,” Greenlief said. “Or a blunt (marijuana). Whatever they prefer.”

In four months, Greenlief said he and the two officers he supervises have already changed the drug culture in Georgetown. Dealers are changing tactics because of the increased police presence on the street, and Greenlief is therefore constantly trying to develop new tactics to catch them.

He could not say whether or not his department had been tracking Mackey before the arrest.

Greenlief said the three most popular drugs in Scott County were “the big three” of marijuana, powder cocaine and crack cocaine, although meth has been flowing in from Western Kentucky and heroin from Cincinnati.

Most of the cocaine is smuggled from Mexico into Texas, and then to hubs — such as Lexington — across the country.

It is often cooked into rock cocaine to create more product and therefore more profit. Cooking it involves a simple process of heating it and cutting it and can be done in the home.

Crack is highly addictive and eventually renders users unable to operate in society. It is rarely stockpiled and is not a party drug, Greenlief said.

Greenlief, who was wearing a University of Kentucky hat but said he was not necessarily a fan of the Wildcats, was surprised to hear that Mackey had been arrested. Though he’d never before met Mackey, he knew of the state title run.

“This is the type of town where, when that happens, there are parades in the street and the firetrucks are leading the way,” he said. “But crack in the schools?”

Greenlief could only shake his head.

“He made a bad contact somewhere,” Greenlief said. “He made the wrong contact.”

In Kentucky, a Class C felony carries a 5-10 year jail sentence, and a Class D felony is punishable by a 1-5 years in jail.

Scott County Attorney Glenn Williams, who is prosecuting the case, refused to comment saying that it was his policy to not discuss pending trials. An attorney for Mackey, 18, could not be reached.

In previous drug cases of this sort, multiple charges have been merged and the severity of the punishment has been based on how cooperative the defendant is. There is a chance Mackey could face probation and be able to continue his basketball career.

But he will not play at Indiana. Sources in Georgetown said that Mackey was informed of Sampson’s decision to withdraw his scholarship offer a few days after the arrest.

But Mackey, who went from being unranked last summer to one of the top 25 players in the country, will likely get a chance to play somewhere, if he is able.

Later today, he’ll take the first step down his next path.

And maybe that will finally allow him to stop reliving the trip that landed him in that brick courthouse in the middle of town: one on which he went from pulling on his Indiana socks before the state championship game to slipping a bag of crack cocaine inside his shoe.


  1. YAWN…. this town is so boring. I would rather hear about the progress of the three anti-semitism lawsuits pending against Mark Kruzan (Barbara Leonard, Alvin Katzman, Seth Patinkin). But of course, the HT will never print a story that would endanger the democrat’s rally on town hall…. YAWN

  2. If someone is caught in possession of something, how can they dare plead not guilty? If this happened to anyone else, they would already be serving time.

  3. David,

    Not guilty basically means you want a trial. Guilty means you’ll accept sentencing without a trial and without any prosecutor proving your guilt. Sometimes defendents will plead guilty because they usually get lenient sentences for cooperating and saving the court’s time.

    If this happened to anyone else the proceedings would be the same. It’s in the Constitution that you can’t be sent to jail without a trial (unless your Arab and they send you to Gitmo).

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