Two California men arrested after more than $1.1 million was found in their truck by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop on I-70 were arraigned in Richfield on Friday.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday before 6th Circuit Judge David Mower for Mark Budaska, 36, and Ken Lee Medlock, 40, both of Marina del Rey, Calif.The pair remained in the Sevier County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail each on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Sevier County Attorney Don Brown said even though no cocaine was found in the truck, authorities believe they have enough evidence to support the charges.
Brown declined to elaborate on the evidence other than acknowledging that police dogs trained to sniff out drugs had responded to the money. He said the men were not charged in connection with a small portion of a marijuana cigarette also found in the truck.
"We're certainly breaking new ground here," was all Brown would say about the evidence that will be introduced in court for the first time on Tuesday.
In a news conference Thursday to announce the arrests, Utah Public Safety Director John T. Nielsen said the westbound truck was stopped near Salina, Sevier County, because it had no license plates.
Nielsen said the trooper asked for and got permission to search it after he noticed a false bottom when a passenger stepped out of the camper. He said the trooper also found that the truck's registration did not match the identification or the description of the driver.
The money, which totaled $1,137,658 in bundles of bills ranging in denomination from $1 to $100, was turned over to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
It is the largest seizure of suspected drug money in the United States so far this year, Nielsen said, and possibly the largest ever in the state. The stretch of highway where the truck was stopped is referred to as, "Cocaine Lane."