FBI search hits downtown Vevay, suspect sought by authorities since 1999

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Friday afternoon was a quiet and sunny one in downtown Vevay; but at approximately 2 p.m. the peaceful day was stirred by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation — who searched a building on Ferry Street as part of an ongoing drug investigation.

The agents arrived at the Switzerland County Sheriff’s office just before 2 p.m., and told Sheriff Nathan Hughes that they were meeting other agents in the parking lot of the Switzerland County YMCA. Returning to the sheriff’s office, the agents informed Sheriff Hughes and Vevay Town Marshal Brian Morton that they were going to execute a search warrant at 213 Ferry Street.

That’s the former Indiana Merchantile and Indiana Puzzle building, and a property that has been owned since 2001 by Terry King — at least that’s who county residents came to know him as.

The FBI knows him as John Roger Sherry, a person that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has been looking for since 1999.

John Roger Sherry was not in Vevay at the time of the search by FBI agents.

John Roger Sherry, 56, was arrested without incident on Tuesday, August 9th, near his residence on Witt Road near the city of London, Kentucky. His arrest last week was based on an arrest warrant that was issued on February 10th, 1999, by U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelmans, Eastern District of Kentucky; according to a press release issued by the Louisville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The press release stated that John Roger Sherry was indicted by a federal grand jury charging him with violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841: possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Those charges stemmed from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency; which believes that John Roger Sherry previously lived in Arizona, Florida, and Tennessee before moving to Kentucky.

After his arrest, FBI agents seized his property and possessions in accordance with federal law. That brought them to Switzerland County, where “Terry King” has owned and overseen the refurbishing of the Merchantile building since 2001. During that time he had befriended several local citizens, who described him earlier this week as a “very nice guy.”

“People around here thought that he was just a guy from Southeastern Kentucky who came up here and bought that building and was fixing it up,” Sheriff Hughes said. “Everyone here thought he owned a bunch of coal mines down in Kentucky. No one had any idea of who he really was.”

When agents arrived at the building on Friday, some Switzerland County residents were at the site on unrelated business. Agents detained those citizens for a short length of time, but none of the local people are suspects in any way in the case; and no one was arrested during Friday’s search.

Rumors swirling around Switzerland County about local arrests are not true — and the FBI press release also stressed that John Roger Sherry is not on the agency’s “Top Ten Fugitives” list, as was rumored over the weekend.

Cindy Long, a spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney’s office in London, Kentucky, said that John Roger Sherry was arraigned on Monday, August 15th, in London in front of U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood.

At the arraignment, John Roger Sherry was given a copy of the indictment against him, and he officially entered a plea of not guilty. The court appointed attorney David Bratt to represent the defendant at trial.

The case will be handled for the prosecution by the office of U.S. Attorney Gregory F. Van Tatenhove. His office declined to name the attorney who will lead that effort.

The FBI stated that it does not comment on ongoing investigations with the exception of official press releases.

Cindy Long said that the judge set a trial date of October 18th at 9 a.m., and she said that the trial is expected to last two days. John Roger Sherry currently remains in federal custody, being held at the Laurel County (Kentucky) detention center.

His arrest was handled by agents of the FBI, who were assisted by the U.S. Forest Service, the Kentucky National Guard, and the Kentucky State Police. Officers with the U.S. Marshal Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency aided in locating John Roger Sherry prior to his arrest.

The events of last Friday certainly shook quiet Switzerland County, as several federal vehicles raced up in front of the building and agents began to conduct the search.

“You certainly don’t see the FBI in Vevay very often,” Sheriff Hughes said. “It certainly got everyone excited.”

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Editor’s Note: Some information for this story was gathered with the assistance of The Sentinel-Echo newspaper of London, Kentucky, and reporter Carl Keith Greene.