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Back at police headquarters, Komesu was singing like a canary. He admitted that he was a morphine addict, Kuretich says, and he admitted forging prescriptions.

"He said he'd taken a large amount of morphine so he could start slowly decreasing his use," Kuretich says. "And he said he had fifty syringes of morphine at his house."

Kuretich and John Gray (a Denver police detective assigned to the DEA task force) went to Komesu's house to search for evidence. They found only a saline solution, which Komesu said was used to dilute the morphine. The house was almost empty of furniture and everything else. Mary and the morphine were gone.

Later that same day, when Mary Komesu phoned her husband at jail, the police traced her call to a Fort Morgan discount store and intercepted her there. According to Kuretich, Mary Komesu was persuaded to take the officers to a motel where she'd hidden the drugs under sheets and blankets. She would later be convicted on drug-possession charges and placed on six years' probation.

Kuretich says Mary Komesu told the police that the stash in the motel room represented the last of the drugs. But investigators declined to take her at her word. Neighbors had reported seeing a moving van in front of the Komesus' driveway days earlier, and investigators believed that Komesu might have been planning to ship drugs (along with his furniture and household goods) to Hawaii. After making a slew of calls, investigators discovered that the Komesus' belongings were in a Loveland warehouse, awaiting shipment to Maui.

It was in that warehouse--packed among toys and hidden in boxes of cereal--that police found Komesu's weapons and the vast quantity of drugs he'd stolen.

Andrew Komesu gives the impression of being conflicted about his arrest and its aftermath. In some ways, he describes it as a blessing. "I think I had to be locked up in jail to get off," he says. "To be honest, what happened was probably the best for me. I think it was harsh--it separated me from my family and destroyed me financially, but I am still alive. I don't think I would be now if it had not happened."

His arrest forced Komesu to kick drugs--cold turkey--in the Morgan County Jail. The pharmacist's withdrawal symptoms were severe enough, Kuretich says, that during the first weeks of his incarceration--before his release on bond in early June--Komesu was twice taken to the hospital for treatment.

But there is a part of Komesu that resents the way his case was handled. "When it happened," he says, "I thought I was treated like dirt."

Komesu had never before been arrested. And despite the fact that investigators suspected that his large cache of drugs--coupled with the presence of weapons--indicated that he might have been peddling narcotics, Komesu has always claimed that the drugs were for his own use.

"I was going to take it to Hawaii and detox there," he says. The 27,800 doses "could have been a six-month supply--maybe eight."

His math, however, does not compute. Even if Komesu had maintained his astounding 800-milligram-a-day habit, his supply would have lasted him almost a year.

As for the weapons, says Komesu, "I used to be a gun collector, which I know is politically incorrect." The assault rifles, he says, had never been fired or used. "They were in storage and not even accessible to me," he insists. "And they had nothing to do with the drugs."

But investigators expressed concern that Komesu was apparently in the process of converting the guns to automatic fire--making them more dangerous and perhaps more valuable--when they were confiscated. And, the agents point out, the guns were in storage only because Komesu was leaving the state.

The very presence of weapons, combined with the drug charges, caused Komesu to be considered a "special offender," placing his charges--and any subsequent sentence--in the "aggravated" range. He could have received 24 to 48 years in prison for that reason alone. And, Komesu says, he would have been ineligible for "good time," which could have cut any sentence in half.

After Komesu's arrest, District Attorney Chris Hefty met with law enforcement officials and representatives of the U.S. Attorney's office to determine the best way to proceed.

"We felt that if we succeeded in prosecuting him on the state level," Hefty says, "that everybody would be satisfied with the outcome." In the end, very few people were satisfied.

After a great deal of haggling between Hefty and Komesu's attorney, Michael Cohen of Westminster, the two agreed on a plea bargain. Komesu would not be tried in federal court. The weapons charges would be dropped. The DA would ask for a five- to twenty-year sentence. And though both sides agreed that probation was not a possibility, Komesu (like all defendants) did retain an opening: He would be allowed to petition the court for a sentence reconsideration within a few months of his incarceration.

Komesu pled guilty to the charges on September 16, 1994, but he was granted a long period of time before sentencing so that he could spend the coming holidays with his wife and children. He was to be formally sentenced in early January.

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