By Bill Miston
OKLAHOMA CITY – A former Edmond police officer is facing federal drug trafficking and international money laundering charges in connection to an investigation alleging he ran an illegal steroid trafficking ring out of his Edmond home and business fronts.
Christopher Thomas Caplinger and co-defendant, 54-year old Donald Ray Vincent, Jr., pleaded not guilty before a federal judge Tuesday. A trial is set for next month.
Caplinger, a retired Edmond police officer, was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on nearly two dozen counts involving possession, manufacturing, and distribution of anabolic steroids, along with maintaining a drug house and international money laundering. Vincent and two others were also indicted. That indictment was unsealed late last week.
“This is obviously the very beginning of the case and they’ve accused Chris of doing a lot of things in regards to steroids over the internet,” said Caplinger’s defense attorney Scott Adams.
According to federal court records the 55-year-old former police officer ran the illegal steroid ring from early 2014 until late 2017, when federal agents raided his home in the 500 block of Benton Road in Edmond.
It’s alleged that Caplinger was the leader of the drug ring. Court documents say Caplinger purchased raw anabolic steroids from countries, like China and Turkey, and sent the drugs to an intermediary in the United States. Michael Brandon Schott of Newport News, Va., would then re-ship the product to Oklahoma City where the manufacturing and distribution would take place, according to the indictment.
In an effort to conceal the activities, prosecutors allege that Caplinger had a woman, Deborah Ann Crawford, open post office boxes for fictional companies, where payment for the steroids would be sent, as well as online PayPal accounts, for buying and selling the drugs.
Prosecutors say proceeds from the steroid sales were concealed by Caplinger and Vincent by depositing the money into a number of bank accounts in the names of others, including Crawford, as well as using state-registered automotive businesses as fronts.
According to the indictment, the drugs were shipped to a purported auto sales business run by Caplinger out of an industrial park in the 8200 block of North Classen where the drug manufacturing was finished.
Money was also stored at Caplingers and Vincent’s homes. Roughly $280,000 was found buried in Caplinger’s backyard, according to the indictment.
“We’re dealing with a lot of issues right now and one of them is that a large sum of money found in his back yard, and some other things,” said Adams. “We’re just trying to get to the bottom of this and see exactly what the allegations are by the government. We’re getting ready to find out and then we’ll deal with it from there.”
Steroids, which are used by some in the bodybuilding, sport and fitness communities to promote muscle growth, are considered a Schedule III drug by the U.S. government. Possession or sale of anabolic steroids, without a valid prescription, is illegal.
The use of steroids in professional sports leagues across the country and the world have been banned. Prolonged use of steroids can have serious side effects.
Federal agents, including the DEA, raided Caplinger’s home last November. Sources told News 4 at the time that drugs, weapons, and cash were seized from inside Caplinger’s home. Officers also raided a second location in Oklahoma City as part of the investigation.
Caplinger is charged with 22 counts relating to conspiracy to possess and distribute, attempted distribution, distribution and manufacturing steroids. He’s also facing charges of maintaining a drug house, U.S. and international money laundering, and use of criminal proceeds. Vincent is facing four counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute, and manufacture anabolic steroids, as well as U.S. and international money laundering.
Crawford faces three counts of U.S. and international money laundering as well as use of criminal proceeds. Schott is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute anabolic steroids. Crawford and Schott are scheduled to appear in court on May 14.
This isn’t Caplinger’s first run-in with the law.
Caplinger was arrested and charged in a 2007 felony police bribery case for his role in accepting money to help drunk drivers avoid prosecution. The case also brought down well-known Oklahoma City defense attorneys Josh Welch, David Ogle and Sam Kerr.
Caplinger pleaded guilty in 2009 to bribing a police officer and conspiracy to bribe a police officer and received a deferred sentence.
Caplinger retired from the Edmond Police Department in 2004 after 20 years on the force.