Johnston's arrest was oxycontin-related

JAN. 6 HEARING: Authorities remain tight-lipped about details.

December 19, 2008 

WASILLA -- Wasilla resident Sherry L. Johnston, mother of Bristol Palin's boyfriend, faces a Jan. 6 court date for an oxycontin-related arrest at her home by Alaska State Troopers.

Little additional information was available Friday on the case as authorities remained unusually tight-lipped about details. But Palmer court records listed her scheduled court date and a troopers spokeswoman said in a release late Friday afternoon that the charges "are in relation to the drug oxycontin."

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, the Wasilla 18-year-old suddenly placed in an international spotlight in September when Gov. Sarah Palin -- who was then running for vice president on the Republican ticket with John McCain -- and her husband, Todd, announced their teenage daughter was pregnant and he was the father.

Johnston's first court appearance will be an arraignment hearing -- when defendants are informed of their charges and usually enter a plea -- scheduled for Jan. 6, according to the Palmer court calendar.

She was arrested around noon Thursday by troopers serving a search warrant in an undercover drug investigation. A standard press released issued by troopers said Johnston was arrested on six felony counts: second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance -- generally manufacturing or delivering drugs -- as well as fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances, or possession.

She was released on bail Thursday afternoon, just a few hours later.

Johnston has not responded to phone messages or requests for comment left at the family home off Wasilla-Fishhook Road. Nobody answered the door there Friday.

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters wouldn't say Friday if there were other potential defendants involved.

Normally, troopers file charging documents in court to back up arrests. Clerks at the Palmer courthouse said they hadn't seen any filings, and none had to be filed until the hearing.

The Palmer District Attorney's office prosecutes drug cases. Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak said he was aware of the arrest, but he also had not seen any reports or charging documents.

Kalytiak said the standard protocol for drug arrests is that law enforcement officials observe one drug buy, then get a warrant that permits them to record conversations and document more buys.

"I'd imagine standard protocol was followed," the district attorney said.

A spokesman for Gov. Palin on Thursday said the arrest was "not a state government matter" and no comment or interviews on the topic would be forthcoming.

Find Zaz Hollander online at adn.com/contact/zhollander or call 352-6711.

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