Quick Takes

DEA vet will lead Kentucky’s opioid settlement distribution. AG-elect Coleman announces his team.

By: - December 19, 2023 12:30 pm

D. Christopher Evans will. lead the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission, AG-elect Russell Coleman announced.

A veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will lead the Kentucky commission that is overseeing distribution of millions of dollars from opioid settlements, Attorney General-elect Russell Coleman announced Tuesday.

Christopher Evans, who started as a street agent and served as the DEA’s acting administrator in 2021, will become the new executive director of the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission, Coleman said.

According to a news release, Evans served in various DEA leadership roles, including as the first special agent in charge of the newly-created Louisville Field Division in which he partnered with then-U.S. Attorney Coleman to open a DEA Office in Paducah.  Evans now  serves on the board of directors of the Christopher 2X Game Changers organization in Louisville and the Kentucky State Police Foundation.

Evans will succeed Bryan Hubbard, outgoing Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s choice to lead the opioid commission. Hubbard championed putting $42 million in settlement funds into researching ibogaine, a psychedelic drug now illegal in the U.S., as a method for easing withdrawal from opioids.

Kentucky Attorney General-elect Russell Coleman speaking on election night, Nov 7, 2023 in Louisville. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Mathew Mueller)

Other appointments announced by Coleman on Tuesday:

  • Rewa Zakharia will serve as Coleman’s criminal chief. She now serves director of special prosecutions in the AG’s office. Zakharia previously served as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Fayette County in the special victims unit where she tried the first labor trafficking case in Kentucky.
  • Richard Ferretti, commissioner of the Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI), is a former Army officer and tank commander who brings 30-plus years of career law enforcement experience, including in the U.S.  Secret Service and the Kentucky AG’s office.
  • Solicitor General Matt Kuhn will continue to oversee the civil and criminal appeals.
  • Justin Clark will return to the attorney general’s office as the civil chief.  Clark is currently the chief legal officer for a Louisville-based technology company. He was previously a litigator in the AG’s office. He’s also served as general counsel of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and as commissioner of the Kentucky Boxing & Wrestling Commission.
  • Christopher Thacker will continue to serve in the AG’s office, becoming the new general counsel. Thacker currently is the head of the civil division, where he successfully argued to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. Thacker previously served as chairman of the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission and was appointed to serve as a special justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court.
  • Vic Maddox, who currently is deputy attorney general, will continue to serve in the office as counsel to the attorney general for special litigation.
  • Amy Burke will take on a new role as the interim chief of child support enforcement. Burke is currently the AG’s criminal chief and was previously the chief prosecutor for the Kenton County Attorney’s Office.
  • Jeremy Murrell will be promoted to become the first deputy commissioner for counter exploitation with a mandate from Coleman to “target harden” Kentucky from those preying on our children.
  • Tramont Banks will also be promoted deputy commissioner for operations. Banks is currently the director of Department of Criminal Investigation’s Protection Intelligence Division following 20 years with the Louisville Metro Police Department.
  • Jessie Halladay will be deputy director of the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission. Halladay, currently a senior policy specialist with the Criminal Justice Institute, has been special advisor to the Louisville Metro Police Department, senior policy advisor to the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and communications director for Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell. Before her government service, Halladay was a public safety and social services reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Today, I’m proud to announce a team of powerhouse attorneys and law enforcement professionals who will bring talent and experience to protecting Kentucky families,” said  Coleman. “Their qualifications represent the very best in their field, not only in Kentucky but also across the country. Every Kentuckian should feel optimistic that we have such incredible public servants who are dedicated to protecting their families from violent criminals, drug traffickers and those who would do us harm. I’m grateful to each of these outstanding individuals who answered the call to serve.”

On Friday, Coleman received a final briefing from his transition team, who have spent weeks reviewing the attorney general’s office and interviewing candidates, according to the news release.

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