Parole violation sends banished man back to jail

Derek Adams telecommuting to his arraignment at the Bethel courthouse. CREDIT ADRIAN WAGNER / KYUK
Derek Adams telecommuting to his arraignment at the Bethel courthouse.

Derek Adams, “The Banished Man” as some have begun to call him, was arrested Wednesday for violating his parole.  Law enforcement officials found that he was carrying hundreds of dollars in cash and a large amount of what appears to be heroin.


According to his report, Bethel Police Sergeant Jeff Lee stopped Derek Adams early Wednesday morning during a routine traffic stop. Adams gave Lee a false name during the stop, but Lee recognized Adams and smelled alcohol on his breath. Lee arrested Adams for violating his parole, which forbade the consumption of alcohol. It was later determined that Adams also tested positive for THC and opiates.

After Adams was taken to the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center, he attempted to dispose of a package filled with a suspicious substance while using the bathroom. In an affidavit, officials said that they found the package hidden behind the toilet. They then strip searched Adams and found another package. Samples from both tested positive for heroin. The report described differences in the appearance of the two packages: the first bundle contained a white-and-brown powder, while the second held a black tar-like substance.

The report goes on to say that the suspected heroin was spilt into smaller tinfoil-wrapped portions and that some had been numbered, indicating that Adams was probably selling the drugs or delivering them. Police said a gram of heroin sells for 500 to 800 dollars in Bethel but did not specify how much heroin was found on Adams. The document also states that drug dealers often do not deliver drugs themselves because of the risk of getting caught. Officials also found several hundred dollars on Adams.

Authorities are charging Adams with two drug related felonies and one drug related misdemeanor.

This arrest comes just a week after Adams was sentenced to time served, and what amounted to 10 years of probation for criminally negligent homicide connected to a 2013 fire that killed three people in the village of Nunam Iqua. Adams was jailed for three-and-a-half years following the fire, released for good behavior, and then banished by Nunam Iqua and two nearby villages. At last week’s sentencing, Judge Charles Ray said that he hoped the 22-year-old would take this opportunity to turn his life around.

Adams was arraigned this Friday at the Bethel courthouse. His bail was set for $50,000 or a third party. His next court date was set for October 3.

Adams was prosecuted by District Attorney Michael Gray, who set up a plea deal for Adams in the case involving the Nunam Iqua fire. Many community and village members believed that the prosecution was soft on Adams during last week’s sentencing. Gray said Thursday that the state did not have enough evidence to prosecute Adams for the crimes they believed he might have committed.


“I suppose I’m not surprised to see him back; I’m surprised to see him back this soon. And the cases are really different cases. You don’t prosecute someone because you think they are a bad actor, you prosecute someone because they committed specific crimes. In the Nunam Iqua homicide case we got what we could, there was just no better outcome in the deck of cards that was left for the state,” Gray said.

Gray echoed the words of Judge Charles Ray, saying that Adams had definitely had a difficult life which may have set him up for failure. Adams’ father was an alcoholic who abused Adams.

“I’m sorry that maybe he didn’t have the time to kind of turn things around, or he didn’t have the structure. It’s just unfortunate. You hate to see any young person screw their life up as badly as he seems to be screwing his up right now,” Gray said.

Prior to his sentencing, Adams had been living on the streets in Bethel. His attorney said during the proceedings that she did not expect him to pay for her services because he had no way of doing so.

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