RICHMOND, Kentucky—Around 6 a.m. on March 6, a loudspeaker blared outside Gary Baldock’s home.
FBI agents dressed in tactical gear called his name several times, demanding the 55-year-old exit and surrender on an arrest warrant. After waiting several minutes, the agents forcibly broke down the front and back doors as neighbors began to line the block of the city of Somerset in suburban Pulaski County.
But just as they began to enter the house, one agent said, they saw a hand holding a holstered pistol.
According to the feds, Baldock began shooting his .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic, prompting a prolonged firefight. Nine minutes later, after an agent was shot and Baldock had sustained a wound in the chest, he surrendered.
As he slumped down against a wall of his home, however, he attempted to call the man with whom he had enjoyed special legal status in their deep-red Kentucky jurisdiction an hour outside Lexington: Michael “Wally” Wallace.
They weren’t police, per se, but elected constables—and they were accused of abusing their power.
If Wallace and Baldock had flown under the radar, that changed on Sept. 24, 2019. That’s when they allegedly falsely arrested an undercover federal agent during a sting operation aimed at decoding their behavior. The two men were by then at the center of a multi-jurisdictional investigation, a bizarre fall from grace that pointed to the perils of electing lawmen who might be left to learn on the job.
“We’ve been hearing through the grapevine that the whole [scope] of the corruption is not just with those two constables; there could be others potentially involved that come forward in the findings as well,” Kentucky Constables Association president and Adair County constable Jason Rector told The Daily Beast.
Wallace and Baldock boasted full arrest powers despite being required to obtain little to no law enforcement training or certification. The role, in theory, mostly consists of delivering court papers like warrants and eviction notices. But their records were far from mundane.
Throughout his 15-year tenure as the District 5 constable, Wallace, 45, has been accused several times of abusing his police-adjacent powers, allegedly planting drugs during an arrest, stealing money from suspects, and even falsely arresting with no real case. Baldock joined the association two years ago while working part-time at the Pulaski Detention Center and allegedly took part in Wallace’s power trip.
“Wally was the ringleader—and Baldock was his sidekick,” Gregory Ousley, a former federal and local prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney, told The Daily Beast. “We’re not just talking about rogue cops. We’re talking about two rogue cops that were trying to corrupt a whole law enforcement system with the power of the courts behind them.”
Of course, the pair saw their mission as a noble one.
“Wallace only wanted to make Pulaski County a better place,” his attorney, Robert E. Norfleet, told The Daily Beast, “vehemently” denying the slew of allegations against his client. “We live in one of the most drugged areas in the United States. This area has been devastated with drug use—and Wallace was just getting large quantities and dealers off the street.”
Baldock’s attorney, Andrew M. Stephens, did not respond to a request for comment, though he stated in a court document that Baldock asserts FBI agents did not correctly identify themselves before they broke down the front and back doors of his house.
On Feb. 27, a grand jury indicted Baldock and Wallace on charges of conspiring to violate the rights of people through bogus searches and seizures of property, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Baldock now faces an additional charge of attempted murder of a federal agent and using a gun in a crime of violence—a crime that faces a potential life sentence. Both men have pleaded not guilty, and while Wallace is out on bail, Baldock has been denied bail and remains behind bars.
In court filings, prosecutors allege that between November 2018 and September 2019, the two men conspired to “oppress, threaten, and intimidate” individuals they arrested. Then, in the sting operation designed to prove the allegations against the constables, the pair allegedly handcuffed the undercover agent prior to finding any evidence of illegal activity or probable cause.
“It’s completely embarrassing to the elected position and duty we swore to do—which was to protect people,” one active constable, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the profession during a re-election bid, told The Daily Beast. “We’re supposed to work with local law enforcement, act as their eyes and ears, but instead Wally and Gary just made us look like fucking Wild West cowboys.”
It wasn’t the first time Kentucky constables came under scrutiny.
In 2017, a Muhlenberg County constable was charged with accepting a bribe in exchange for allowing an inmate to escape while in transport. A year later, a Bath County family experienced a bizarre run-in with a local pajama-wearing (and allegedly drunk) constable.
Wallace, who was first elected in 2006, centered his career around a hard-line anti-drug reputation. The veteran constable is known in the area for his bold Facebook press releases about his latest arrests. Last fall, he started controversially planting signs in front of suspected homes, stating, “This Drug House Closed for Business, Compliments of the Pulaski County Constable’s Office, Michael ‘Wally’ Wallace.”
Timothy Jones has had beef with “Wally” for some time.
Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and accountant who told The Daily Beast he provided information to the FBI, alleges that Wallace wrongfully arrested him in September 2018 for drugs after he called authorities during a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.
Jones, 58, maintains that not only were the drugs not his—except for a prescription he had obtained from a VA doctor that he said Wallace deemed illegal—but that Wallace took $9,500 from him during the arrest. The constable, however, only logged $6,300 into evidence.
The veteran pleaded not guilty to the charges but had to spend three months in jail because he could not initially make the $100,000 bond.
“Had I not experienced this myself, I would never believe somebody associated with that law could do something like this,” Jones said. “He took everything I had. I was homeless for a while from this. He is a damn thug.”
According to the Pulaski County Fiscal Court, constables can use forfeited cash for cars and maintenance, electronic equipment, bullets, and other services related to their job. But for Jones, the arrest meant losing his apartment and job prospects, he said.
Norfleet denied Jones’ “ridiculous” allegations to The Daily Beast, stating that Wallace would only arrest an individual that committed a crime. The allegations in the Jones case, however, mirror those posed by several of Gregory Ousley’s clients.
“Once you put a corrupt person in this position of power, and he goes and lassos somebody and brings them into police, they automatically enter a system that will chew them up and spit them out even if they did nothing wrong, to begin with,” Ousley added. “And if somebody like that is given so much authority and power—they have the ability to pervert the whole law enforcement system.”
On Sept. 24, 2019, the FBI called in an anonymous tip into Wallace’s “billboard tip line” with information on the location of their undercover agent—whom they said was a “possible drug trafficker.”
“The last thing you expect when you get a tip about a possible drug deal is that the FBI is involved,” the constable running for re-election said. “I’m sure Wally and Baldock were excited about making a bust and went out of their way to ensure they got the win.”
The tip was detailed, providing the constables with a description of the agent’s car and his location at the Somerset Mall parking lot, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason D. Parman said in a May 1 memorandum. When the two arrived, the constables took the agent out of the vehicle and searched him before slapping him with handcuffs.
While the agent had a key to a local Red Roof Inn and some cash, he did not have drugs. Wallace, however, allegedly circled his K-9 around the car, claiming the dog got a “hot”—or a hit for possible drugs—off the driver-side door.
According to the memo, “the dog, however, simply circled the vehicle.”
“When no drugs could be found, Constable Baldock contacted [Burnside Police] and asked what a citation should say if someone were to be properly arrested for public intoxication,” the memo states, adding that “Baldock then wrote a citation for public intoxication.”
When the FBI arranged to get their agent out of jail, Wallace immediately called the federal authorities to ask “if he were being investigated.”
Five months later, Baldock was transported to the hospital for the gunshot wound sustained in the FBI shootout.
But prosecutors’ memo added that during an investigation into Baldock’s home, agents found a “Pulaski County Constable” vehicle containing “scales and a small baggie of methamphetamine,” though “Baldock denied having ever taken any drug evidence into his custody.”
Norfleet, Wallace’s attorney, sought to frame the saga as a dispute between lawmen gone haywire.
“This stems out of resentment of Mr. Wallace getting large quantities of drugs off the street. This is not a frustration with the office of the Constable—it’s a frustration with Wallace,” Norfleet said, arguing that the whole investigation stemmed from an ongoing resentment the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office had toward his client. (Through a representative, Pulaski County Sheriff Greg Speck declined a request for comment, stating: “That is an FBI investigation, and we have nothing to comment on.”)
For Jones—whose charges were dropped one week after Wallace was arrested—the case against the two lawmen might signal the end of what he called “an antiquated and irresponsible process.
“There has to be change. Either a vetting process or training or taking away constables’ right to have arrest powers and a gun,” Jones said. “But after Wally and Baldock got arrested, I will say, I have some faith back in the system.”